A half dozen women started Project Plant...

...early in 1984, including Alvi McWilliams, Linnea Warmke, Muriel Frederick, and Katy Foley. The idea for Project Plant was first discussed at a dinner hosted by Pat Grean, and given enthusiastic approval by Hollis Summers, a noted Athens poet. Mary Culp, a serious gardener, became one of the organizers in the first few months we met, the spring and summer of 1984. Sue Boyd, another serious gardener, joined later and has become our treasurer. The mission was to improve the economic and civic vitality of Athens through gardens in the central business district and at city entries.

Our first project, utility pole flower baskets, focused on downtown Athens where, by 1984, a series of fires had left Court Street scarred by three large empty lots, poorly masked by graffiti tagged fences. With grants from the O’Bleness and Athens Foundations, we commissioned utility pole flower baskets from John Deno’s Industrial Technology class at Athens High School. We had the baskets planted by Beacon School students doing greenhouse training. An Atco worker began the summer maintenance and watering, which was continued for several years by Bill Malcom and his parents Scott and Marjorie. The baskets were retired when the utility poles were replaced, because they were too large to fit the new poles.

We also started gardens at city entries and city parks. Today we continue to garden six sites and maintain a seventh: the East State Street traffic island near the Bob Evans Restaurant (our first traffic island garden); a traffic island at the intersection of Stimson Avenue and East State; one on Columbus Road near WATH and Rt. 33; a small traffic island at the base of Madison Avenue’s entry to East State Street; and the large garden around the Athens County Convention and Visitor's Bureau at Mansfield House, 667 East State Street. Project Plant volunteers weed and maintain the gardens around the Athens County Library on Home Street; we have also bought plants for some of the library gardens, and we hire a contractor to do special plantings and seasonal work there. This year we will have weeding done by a contractor at the Richland Avenue city entry sign near the roundabout.

Project Plant now has two contractors, Mason Chambers of Five Springs Farm and Nursery and Michelle Douglas of Fine Lawn Care, to do the seasonal maintenance of the traffic island garden sites. Michelle Douglas plants annuals on the Stimson Avenue and Madison Avenue traffic islands, and maintains them, and also cares for the Columbus Road and Richland Avenue sites. Five Springs plants the pansies and tulips on the East State traffic island, then maintains that city entry garden after Project Plant volunteers plant annuals. Active Project Plant members number about a dozen today.

All this work, including paying the contractors, comes from generous contributions by Athens citizens, plus support from the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Athens. Athens citizens have been the biggest source of our funding over the years. We are grateful to all those folks who have supported us, many for all three decades. Grants from the O’Bleness Foundation and the Athens Foundation have helped over the years on special projects.

Project Party!

At a potluck in June, we gathered to celebrate 30 years,

say some farewells and dodge raindrops.

Beautification Day

On April 19th Project Plant volunteers will help and supervise students during the annual Beautification Day at the Mansfield site and the roundabout on Richland Avenue. Student volunteers will mulch the large landscape beds in front of the Community Center swimming pool and along the underpass near the roundabout.

30th Anniversay Project

To celebrate our thirtieth anniversary, we are funding a bench through Athens Parks and Recreation that will be located at the Mansfield House tourism building in front of the Community Center. The dedication will be held in late spring. We are also discussing other projects, yet to be decided.

Volunteers Even More Welcome

Tuesday mornings. weather permitting, you will find two Project Plant crews hard at work, one at the Mansfield House site and the other at the Athens County Library. Sue Boyd is the contact for the Mansfield crew and Naomi Stork is the Contact for the library. To contact either use the Contact Email Form below. We would be happy to hear from you!

Like to help us?

You can join in the gardening that helps make Athens such a remarkable place
by sending a tax deductible contribution to:

Project Plant, P. O. Box 5676, Athens OH 45701.

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