POTTSTOWN >> Money … money … money and plants … plants … plants were a big part of this year’s Home Garden Contest award ceremony since winners took home as much as $200.
This was the fourth year for the area gardening event which was expanded to include Boyertown Borough residents in addition to Pottstown Borough residents. Each borough had separate judging and awards but there was a joint ceremony for winners Sunday afternoon at the Brookside Country Club in Pottstown. A combined $5,500 in cash prizes were awarded to winners along with certificates. This year’s contest included categories for vegetables, flowers, children and more. About 35 people entered this year’s contest.
“What we’re trying to do is promote people to enjoy gardening for a lifetime,” said Dave Kraybill, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation executive director.
Kraybill said the foundation’s mission is to promote healthy living so they saw an opportunity to use the Home Garden Contest to do just that. He said the contest aims to create lifelong gardeners who will continue to grow fresh produce or enjoy spending time planting flowers outdoors.
Four-year-old Lily-Anne Wright, of Pottstown, was one of the youngest recipients at the awards ceremony Sunday. Wright took home 2nd place and $75 for her win in the junior garden category. The category was for gardeners 18 and younger. Wright said she likes to play in the garden. She had fun planting tomatoes, rainbow carrots, rosemary and more.
Her mother Laura Wright said the young gardener did pretty much all of the work including putting the seeds in the dirt. She said the contest was exactly the motivation they needed to start gardening as a family.
“This was so much fun. We really enjoyed it,” she said.
This was not the first time planting for experienced Boyertown gardener Suzanne Frain. She has been growing flowers for about 30 years. Frain said she grows a lot of native plants and milkweeds in order to attract pollinators. Frain received the first place prize in the Bees & Butterflies category which came with a $200 cash prize. She said she really enjoys the peaceful environment of her garden especially after a stressful day.
“It’s therapy for me,” Frain said.
Mosaic Community Land Trust was one of the organizers of the garden contest. Laura Washington, Mosaic Pottstown garden manager, said the borough now has three community gardens as well as a permaculture garden. She said Mosaic works to bring families together and to teach them about growing vegetables and flowers.
“There aren’t many opportunities to buy rows of fresh vegetables at the convenience stores or the corner stores,” Washington said. “So Mosaic is also providing an opportunity for families to be able to garden.”
Penn State Extension master gardener Gretchen Lea was one of the Boyertown representatives on the garden contest committee. She said gardens in both boroughs were judged based on the condition of the plants, variety, and the overall aesthetic value and layout. In many cases, creativeness was the tie breaker, she said. Lea is a big advocate of gardening and said the activity has physical and mental health benefits.
“My biggest pleasure in gardening is the peace. To me, it’s the mental health. If I’m not out there gardening at least once a week, I feel really frustrated,” she said.
Tracy Purdy, Mosaic board president, ended the ceremony Sunday by thanking everyone who participated. Purdy, who also judged some of the Pottstown gardens, said it was a great experience to see the beautiful plants. She encouraged everyone to invite family and friends to start gardening so they can enter next year’s contest.
For a slide show of the gardens entered in the 2016 Home Garden Contest and a full list of the winners, visit the website at www.HomeGardenContest.com.