Community volunteers calling themselves Bloomies have spent each Saturday for nearly two years sprucing up Morro Bay. Project organizer, Walter Heath, indicated the mission of Morro Bay In Bloom (MBIB) is to organize people and like-minded groups to beautify public spaces. “We can be the volunteer labor force for projects that groups determine are needed.”
The Bloomies have high hopes for a fruitful visit from volunteer judges representing America in Bloom (AIB) July 10-11. Notables in their fields of horticulture and gardening will spend two days touring Morro Bay, including MBIB landscape projects. AIB is a national grass-roots urban renewal program focused on “gardening therapy” for the beautification of America’s communities.
Heath says although MBIB anticipates a positive assessment, participating in the AIB awards programs comes with broader benefits. “Before they leave we’ll get an extensive written report telling us how we excelled and what we can still do to beautify Morro Bay.” On the AIB website it states the awards program “intends to help communities harness untapped energy, talent, and resources to champion greening, enhance environmental awareness, promote economic development, and improve quality of life.”
“Early in his first term, Mayor Irons attended an all-county mayor’s meeting,” explained Heath. “Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara challenged the group to get involved with America in Bloom. I had asked Mayor Irons to find me a project that would be community affirming. I’d just been diagnosed with leukemia and was in a tailspin. America In Bloom matched my background. Growing up in San Francisco I came from a gardening family. My grandparents raised orchids and tuberous begonias. I started marigolds for my dad. I’m a retired chemist with some experience organizing people. I needed “gardening therapy” in my life.”
MBIB used Facebook to invite interested participants to come out and help with their first project, Morro Bay’s Library. “The landscaping was aging and overgrown. Next we took on the Chamber of Commerce. It needed major sprucing. Usually we get 10 to15 or as many as 25 people each Saturday from 9-11am. We are working with Joe Woods, (Morro Bay’s Recreation Director), on the Adopt a Park program. Community groups sign on to maintain a Morro Bay park. MBIB has adopted the Centennial Parkway project, which begins at the top of Centennial stairs on Market Street and runs out to the dock and water. We have big plans to stabilize the hillside and make it look nice. We’re adding succulents to the planters near D’Stacios. It’s amazing what ten people can accomplish in two hours.”
Bloomies are also promoting a public art project, Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival benefitting Project Surf Camp and MBIB for November. www.morrobayinbloom.org