The rain cleared overnight and sunshine helped to warm the crowd on this blustery Monday, April 23, 2012, in Columbia, S.C. There were about a dozen enthusiastic growers assembled, busily planting trees and shrubs, all wearing bright yellow t-shirts emblazoned with “Give Back to Gro.”
There was no shortage of dignitaries present to help celebrate the GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Grant Award from Scotts Miracle-Gro. This grant program is helping to beautify cities and build community gardens across the nation.
The National Gardening Association was represented by Julie Parker-Dickson. Jocelyn Bogen represented the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and Bill Dawson represented the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Columbus, Ohio. Don McInnes, Chairman of the Columbia Tree and Appearance Commission and JeffCaton, new director of Columbia Parks and Recreation, were in attendance. In addition, The Garden Writers Association and Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) are long time partners of Scotts Miracle-Gro Company’s GRO1000 program.
Columbia Mayor Steven Benjamin commended the public/private partnership with Scotts Miracle-Gro, which he stated, “…is a world class corporation,” for reinvesting in America’s cities. The U.S. Conference of Mayors chose this I-126 and Greystone Boulevard gateway to the city and Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden for a beautification project. According to Mayor Benjamin, Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden is the number one tourist attraction in the state.
Scott’s Miracle-Gro President, Southeast Region, Scott Allen, presented the $25,000 grant check to Mayor Steven Benjamin as the GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Grant Award winner. Satch Krantz, Executive Director of Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens, commented, “This is a great gateway to the zoo and the city. Thanks to Scotts Miracle-Gro and Mayor Steven Benjamin.”
Allen explained that the grant program was launched in 2011. Scotts plans to install 1,000 gardens by its 150th anniversary as a company in 2018. Allen said, “To purifying air and serving as a welcoming point to the city, green spaces will provide many benefits to our environment. Mayor Benjamin’s leadership in bringing new green scapes, new projects, to Columbia is truly admirable and a great thing for your city.”
Chris Allen also presented the national award, the Give Back to Gro Youth Gardener Award, to a local Junior Master Gardener, Joy Thornburg. Allen said, “This award highlights the effort of a student in each of our GRO1000 cities who exemplifies our philosophy of sharing and giving back to one’s community. It especially recognizes students who have demonstrated leadership and environmental awareness.” Julie Parker-Dickson of the National Gardening Association presented Thornburg with a basket full of garden-related goodies.
The South East President of Scotts Miracle-Gro concluded, “My team represents the South East and in the South gardening represents a way of life.”
May 7, GRO1000 will be in Corpus Christi, Texas – Lindale, and on May 25, the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone Gateway Park in Cleveland, Ohio.