Back the Blue – A Community’s Generosity

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping project at Gilchrist County Sheriff office is one that honors the fallen, appreciates the living and is borne of a desire to make a positive difference. Nature Coast Master Gardener, Christine H., felt something could be done to improve the appearance of weedy beds, cracked pots and dead ornamentals surrounding the GCSO. An idea was borne. Faithful volunteers, the encouragement of community supporters and tenacity in weathering delays, were keys to success.

To the individual(s) who originally placed canna on the property, thank you! Once dug and divided, dozens of canna have been transplanted. GCSO employees are rewarded with tropical foliage. BONUS: seasonal yellow flowers!

Master Gardeners are trained by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) faculty, specialists and extension staff. Their knowledge and activities are your land grant University at work -connecting research to local communities. Nature Coast Master Gardeners (NCMG’s) representing Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties, united to provide a tangible expression of appreciation to GCSO peace keeping force. An added byproduct is enhanced community awareness of the University of Florida Master Gardener volunteer program and UF’s Florida-Friendly Landscaping program. Both programs are directed from local extension offices.

These young men and women spent several hours digging, weeding, mulching as part of 4H community service.
(L-R standing) Gilchrist County 4H youth; Grace I., Rachel I., Savannah S., Kara C., Jessica C., Jessica Altum (4H Agent) and Christine H. kneeling; Dalton C. and Caleb I.
A Community’s Generosity

Residents have peppered the sheriff’s office wanting to know who is paying for this transformation. As a result of print advertising and speaking one-on-one, NCMG’s raised six hundred sixty dollars in support of the GCSO ‘Back the Blue’ project. Help, in the form of tangible donations, private funding and supplies is proof of community support.

These generous individuals and businesses provided funds, equipment, soil amendment, materials, plants and support to move this project forward; ACE Hardware, Trenton * Dan Beyer, Gilchrist Recycling * Chiefland WalMart * Watson C&D * Gilchrist County Journal * Jeff Hardison, * Flying Hawk Enterprises, Old Town * Deen Lancaster, Lancaster Realty * Drummond Bank * Bradley Groom * Heather Blake, Natural Treasures Nursery * Gilchrist County Soil and Water Conservation District * Melissa M. * Chuck Strange, Chiefland Billiards * Gilchrist County 4-H * Bill H. * Linda & David G. * Rose Petals Nursery * Am Vets Post #442 * Trinity S.

* 100% of work and services were from volunteers (Sue S., Lindsey H., Melissa M., Mary T., Susan H., Trinity S., Linda G., Christine H., spouses and Gilchrist County 4-H youth) without pay.
* 100% of deliveries was from volunteers in their private vehicles.
* 100% of design, planning and installation was provided by volunteers.
* 100% of advertising was provided by area newspapers, online and print.
* No GCSO funds were used.

Everyone is talking about the specialty planter, made from the trunk of a detective’s car. Planting around it still needs tweaking and finishing touches, but it’s a fun and exciting piece of our work. 100% of the cost of the specialty planter created from a Crown Victoria detective’s car trunk was donated by Gilchrist County Recycling. NCMG’s were good stewards, stretching funds by repurposing, painting and patching broken pots.

Gilchrist County 4H youth pause for a picture with deputy sheriff .
Gilchrist County 4-H youth and deputy sheriff.
Where may I get more information?

The core group of NCMG were able to apply and disseminate the research from UF IFAS—what we learned in the classroom—to the project. Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) principles are the basis for plant purchase and gardening decisions. Did you know, FFL is the DIYers dream? Reduce maintenance and possible savings on the water bill are side benefits. Pick one, or two, of nine FFL principles; mulch, efficient irrigation, appropriate fertilization, managing yard pests responsibly or recycling. Minor tweaks can make a difference.

As an example, adding organic manure/compost to landscape beds improves water holding capacity, decreases compaction and improves micro organism diveristy. As mulch decomposes it helps improve soil structure, providing suitable environment for roots. Decorative rock and soil amendment was purchased in bulk. Plants were sourced locally and augented with donated ornamentals from home landscapes.

Prefer a show-n-tell approach? Yard advisors may discuss landscape challenges and celebrate your gardening successes. Just to be clear, we don’t do the work, we advise on the work. Yard advisors supply UF research based options. This service provided at no charge in Dixie, Levy and Gilchrist counties.

“If we were bakers, perhaps a monthly delivery of delicious pastries and cakes would show our appreciation of law enforcement. But fortunately—or maybe unfortunately depending on your particular appetite—we are “plant-a-holic” gardeners, and planting flowers is what we do.” Christine H.

You may have experienced rigors of tilling, trimming, weeding, digging, planting and mulching. Because of community’s generosity, NCMG’s brought ‘Back the Blue’ to completion. Congratulations. Job well done! Until next time, Happy Gardening!

We appreciate your generous support of programs such as these.

Tax receipt not required? Check payable to University of Florida.
Mail to:
UF/IFAS Extension Levy County
625 North Hathaway Avenue/27A
PO Box 219
Bronson, FL. 32621
Memo: Master Gardener

Tax receipt requested? Check payable to: University of Florida FOUNDATION
Mail to:
UF/IFAS Extension Levy County
625 North Hathaway Avenue/27A
PO Box 219
Bronson, FL. 32621
Memo: Master Gardener


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Posted: August 22, 2019

Category: Community Volunteers, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Master Gardener

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