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The City of District Heights is having an environmental awakening of sorts.  Our community is getting excited about our status as a Sustainable Community and we are just getting started. The participation in the Annual Prince Georges County Clean Up Green Up Campaign gave us the start that we needed to begin cultivating our story.

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We started by forming a garden community of gardeners who want to grow a garden conversation and strong gardening community in Central Prince Georges County — starting in our very own front yard. The name of this group is The Garden Coalition.  With the blessings of our Mayor James Walls and the excitement of two of our newest Commissioners – Cynthia Miller and Harryette Irving, our former Mayor – now Commissioner Jack Sims, our Vice Mayor Eddie Martin, the assistance of our City Manager Ms. Sharla Crutchfield and we cannot forget our City Treasurer Dan Baden – we got our garden party started at a most appropriate time – Fall of 2014.

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(Left to right)  Former Mayor/Commissioner -Jack Sims, City Manager – Sharla Crutchfield, Eager Resident –         Ms. Teri Speight, City Treasurer Dan Baden, Commissioner Cynthia Miller

IMG_20141018_123947 Mayor James Walls and Commissioner Miller

We gathered residents like AARP members, the Oxon Hill Young Marines, their parents, eager residents and a few members of our Department of Public Works,  We participated in the 4th Annual Prince Georges County Clean Up Green Up and spent the day working on a special project.

20141018_081454-SMILEThat was such a special Saturday as the AARP Ladies kept all the children safely busy, the parents were on back up behavior control (for the just in case)  – that became boring so the parents pitched in as well. As we laughed and shared this wonderful experience, the eager residents made certain that the tools were spread around and used by all. Other volunteers assisted Master Gunn in making sure each child participated – after all this was a community building event! When it came time for the daffodil bulbs to be installed, some adults were worried, that if they were not pointed up, they would not bloom.  The children just wanted to get the task at hand done to the best of their ability – pointed bulbs tips were of no concern to The Oxon  Hill Young Marines….and just for that day…it was A-OK!! Once the perennials and grasses were installed, we stood back and marveled at our work.20141018_120302

We were pleasantly surprised this past Spring when we ventured out for the Spring Green Up Green Up to refresh the mulch and remove weeds. Those daffodils simply smiled, sharing happy thoughts.wpid-wp-1440653078306.jpeg

Summer rolled around and the plants began to bloom. There were pollinator plants, mostly native plants that brought the prettiest butterfly’s and bees of all types.  We added plants donated from the Silver Spring Garden Club, some purchased from Heavens Garden Nursery in LaPlata, Maryland and of course donated plants from residents, as well as friends. Our Pollinator Garden bloomed from Spring until now…such a beautiful site. When I drive or walk by, I notice the finches feeding on our Echinacea seed heads. I cannot help but think about how this helps the mindset of the children walking to school, as they experience nature up close and personal – every day!

20150712_203013As the seasons begin to change, we look forward to another Annual Clean Up Green Up Day in Prince Georges County Saturday, October 17, 2015 is the official date.  We will begin installing Pollinator Pockets along District Heights Parkway starting just beyond Rochelle Drive.  We have a few native trees and perennials we would like to install which will enhance what we are calling our Environmental Parkway. What a terrific way to encourage our pollinating insects to embrace our community because we care enough to be concerned about the dwindling numbers of bees and butterflies.  Think about that for a moment.  Remember as children, we saw bees and butterflies in abundance.  Where are they now and why are they not visible for our children to experience?  There are many answers to this very important question, however the first thing we can do to make a difference is to plant more food for the pollinators.  Very simple, doable and each of us can help in this effort.

Here are just a few action items to get you started, more tips can be found at http://www.pollinator.org:

  • Minimize the use of chemicals in your landscape;
  • Know your soil type – it can make the difference in your gardens success;
  • plant with knowledge (find out what to plant to feed the insects that help our food grow and our plants bloom);
  • be water wise (plant drought tolerant, native plant material interspersed with non native species for instant all season color; and
  • leave a bit of water in an angled saucer with a small stone in it, so that the pollinators can pause and sip.

My favorite tip is for our residents and friends  – COME GROW WITH US!!! You don’t have to live here, just have our best interests at heart and help us with our efforts to make a positive impact with our environmental footprint.

I invite you to join The Garden Coalition in District Heights, Maryland.  We have had fun since our inception from going to The Philadelphia Flower Show (twice now), attended a tour of The White House Kitchen Garden, we have registered as a S.H.A.R.E. (Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment) and we are members of the Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization that is dedicated exclusively to the protection of pollinators and their ecosystems.

We meet on the second Monday of each month from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at the Municipal Center, 2000 Marbury Drive, District Heights, Maryland. Our growth depends on Community involvement and partnerships. We need our friends and community to volunteer for Clean Up Green Up Day from 9 am- 12 pm, as well as ongoing workdays to keep our beautification efforts – beautiful. A few hours of your time can help us keep our community beautiful!! Let’s coordinate or sponsor a site.

We are also committed to educating our community via workshops, educational field trips and programs.  We are looking for partners to hep us financially (in kind donations preferred) in order to bring quality programming to the Central Prince Georges County community.

Please contact us at thegardencoalition@gmail.com and help us grow a STRONG GARDENING COMMUNITY!!