Nine Arkansas communities will share $15,000 in grant funding through the Greening of Arkansas Grant Program. Locally, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Clean and Beautiful Commission received an award.
Developed and managed by the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show board in 2006, the program is intended to support the development and care of community gardens, parks, and other public green spaces throughout Arkansas.
Recipients of the grant funding, which range from $700 to $2,500, were selected by a three-person committee. Recipients include:
• The Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Clean and Beautiful Commission will receive $2,500 to enhance a community garden with fruit trees and rose bushes.
• Southern Arkansas University Tech at East Camden will receive $2,500 to landscape an area to display a Rocket Monument.
• Seven Hills Garden in Fayetteville. The Seven Hills Homeless Shelter will receive $700 to create a small garden at the shelter.
• The Boone County Master Gardeners in Harrison will receive $1,200 to establish a pollinator garden for use in education and demonstrations.
• The Pulaski County Master Gardeners in Little Rock will receive $2,500 to plant a demonstration garden for horticultural education.
• The Pulaski Heights Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association in Little Rock will receive $1,500 to establish a small green space for students and public use.
• Audubon Arkansas at Little Rock will receive $1,100 to improve native plant demonstration gardens.
• The Paron Community Center in Paron will receive $1,000 to improve the landscaping around the center.
• Five Rivers Historic Preservation Inc. at Pocahontas will receive $2,000 to create a green space near the Arts District in downtown Pocahontas.
The nine communities were contacted in late December that their respective grant applications had been approved.
The committee judges grant applications according to criteria designed to support the committee’s vision, while keeping the goal of geographic dispersion in mind, when possible.
In addition to the grant funding, thousands of dollars in proceeds from the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show also go toward funding students studying horticulture in Arkansas.
Krista Quinn, the former executive director of the show, said the beautification grants help fulfil a key component of the show’s foundational purpose.
“The Greening of Arkansas grant program is an important part of the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show’s mission,” Quinn said. “Many studies have shown that there are huge economic and social benefits when communities have attractive public areas and green spaces.
“Our grant program often gives communities the start-up funding they need to create civic plantings to beautify spaces their residents use on a daily basis,” she said. “This can promote community pride, increase the enjoyment of these spaces, and even attract new business and tourism in some areas.”
Quinn, who had been director since 2008, recently stepped down from her post after accepting a position with the Arkansas Forestry Commission. In December, the show’s board of directors voted to hire Mary Beth Rogers as the new executive director. Rogers has served as the executive secretary of the Arkansas Turfgrass Association since 2009.
The 2018 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show will take place March 2-4 at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. The theme is “Imagine the Possibilities.”
— Ryan McGeeney is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.