By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
Boyertown residents can spring into action this season along with Pottstown for the 4th Annual Home Garden Contest.
The contest continues to grow every year and 2016 is no different. Last year, all of Pottstown Borough was eligible to participate and this year so is all of Boyertown Borough. The expansion allows Boyertown residents to enter the borough’s first official gardening contest.
“I think it really opens up the doors for something we’ve been wanting to do for a while,” said Adrianne Blank, main street manager of Building a Better Boyertown.
Building a Better Boyertown is a non-profit organization focused on downtown revitalization. Blank said revitalization isn’t just about the businesses but also about beautifying the area. She said although there’s a committee in Boyertown focused on planting trees, there wasn’t much encouragement when it came to other gardening aspects such as flowers and vegetables. She said she’s excited to partner with Pottstown for this year’s contest because it’s a sustainable initiative.
Mosaic Community Garden manager Laura Washington said it was a collaborative effort to expand the contest into Boyertown. She was excited about the response they’ve received in Pottstown in past years and wanted the contest to continue to grow. Both Mosaic and the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, the contest’s main sponsor, felt Boyertown was the perfect next step for the Home Garden Contest.
Linda Flederbach is the former main street manager of Boyertown and a member of the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation board of directors. She said since the residents have resources available to them through the Wellness Council of Boyertown and Building a Better Boyertown, bringing the Home Garden Contest to the borough was a great idea. She also believes it will help promote a connection between Pottstown and Boyertown just as the Colebrookdale Railroad does.
“It just seems like a great place to start expanding the gardening contest,” Flederbach said.
Boyertown and Pottstown residents will have separate judging but a joint awards ceremony. Each of the seven garden contest categories will have winners from both boroughs. There’s $5,500 available in cash prizes this year between the two municipalities. There are also gift certificates and additional awards available due to the support of local businesses Pine Hill Tree Farm, Colonial Gardens ad Achin’ Back Garden Center.
“I just think that it’s important to get across the message that anybody can participate,” Flederbach said.
This year’s garden contest has categories for small spaces, full-sized yards, flowers, vegetables, adults and youth. Washington said she thinks the pizza garden category will get a lot of the entries this year. The category is geared toward children and families but anyone can enter. The garden just has to include plants that can be used on a pizza such as tomatoes, herbs and peppers.
Both beginner and experienced gardeners are invited to participate in the Home Garden Contest. Washington said Mosaic offers a variety of free gardening workshops and is a resource for those that need help starting, building and designing a garden. Mosaic will have gardening workshop about mulch on Tuesday and a workshop about composting basics on April 26. For more information about these two events, visit the Mosaic website mosaicclt.org.
Flederbach said she really hopes Boyertown residents will take advantage of Mosaic as a resource.
“That is one of the things that I really wanted to see come out of the whole garden contest with Boyertown being a part of it. That folks would go there and go see the presentations that Laura (Washington) has and learn through Mosaic,” she said.
Flederbach said she is new to gardening herself but that it’s gratifying to see the seeds she puts in the ground turn into beautiful plants. She said it feels good when people stop by her house to compliment the garden.
“It’s just a lot of fun. I’m not a big dirt person so that’s the least fun for me … but I like what comes of the whole thing in the end,” Flederbach said.
Gardeners that don’t have a lot of yard space or live in an apartment can take advantage of the “a lot with a little” garden category. Entries for this category can include container gardens, window sill boxes and small planters. Washington said there are lots of ways for individuals with small yards to garden such as using re-purposed items and gardening vertically.
“There’s a way to build a garden up versus spreading it out,” she said.
Washington said whichever category people choose to enter as part of the contest; there are lots of benefits to gardening. She said it’s a great low-impact activity to get people outdoors and “literally smell the roses.” It’s something that can be enjoyed as a family or with friends, she added. Washington said one of the main advantages of growing your own vegetables is that you know what’s in the produce you eat and have the option not to add harmful chemicals and pesticides. She also said growing produce is a money saver.
“A pack of seeds cost about $1 on average and a tomato plant is about $3,” Washington said adding that a plant can produce 15 to 30 pounds of tomatoes throughout the season.
Flower gardens are beneficial to the environment because they attract pollinators such as honey bees, Washington said. She said if a large number of people decide to plant flowers in their yard then that has a great positive impact on the environment.
Registrations for the contest are due by 5 p.m. June 17. Print registration forms will be available at the Building a Better Boyertown office and the Pottstown Mosaic office in the next couple of weeks. Residents will also have the ability to register online at the website HomeGardenContest.com. When people register, they have the option of asking for a gardening mentor to help get them started.
Judging will take place in July and gardens will be judged on creativity, balance, use of the color and more. For additional questions about the contest visit the website HomeGardenContest.com. People can also contact Laura Washington at 484-300-2410 or Gretchen Lea at 610-716-2162.