By Debbie Gardner
GREATER SPRINGFIELD – On May 15, The Massachusetts Flower Growers Association (MFGA) and the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) hope people across the Bay State will take a few minutes to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
Dubbed "Plant Something" this mid-week pause to connect with Mother Earth is designed to raise public awareness about the positive personal and community benefits of gardening.
According the MFGA and MNLA, these benefits include increasing the value of one's home through landscaping, cutting food costs by growing vegetables, supporting the local economy by shopping at neighborhood garden centers and "burning up to 600 calories an hour" working in one's garden.
"On May 15 we're going to try to get every town in Massachusetts to plant things," Chris Graziano, president and owner of Graziano Gardens of East Longmeadow and a member of the Plant Something MA outreach, told Reminder Publications.
Graziano is organizing public tree planting events for his hometown of East Longmeadow and for Wilbraham on that day.
The East Longmeadow event will take place in Heritage Park, located on North Main Street, at 10 a.m. The Wilbraham event will occur at Fountain Park, located on Tinkham Road, at 3 p.m.
A "Plant Something" event is also planned for Springfield. Judy Cmero, publicity chair for the Springfield Garden Club, said members would be adding native plants to the landscaping outside the Quadrangle's Connecticut Valley Historical Museum. She added the club would be following up this public planting with a May 18 plant sale in the Museum parking lot, located on Edwards Street, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine.
According to Kim LaFleur, statewide project coordinator for Plant Something MA, these local events are just a small sampling of the public and private plantings scheduled across Massachusetts on May 15.
"Some senior centers are planting kitchen gardens, [there will be plantings] at traffic circles, planter plantings at town greens, plantings at libraries, a homeowner has pledged to get his herb gardens working that day, and others are planting annuals," LaFleur said. "An animal shelter that has signed on [and is] going to be planting catnip they will use, when marketable, as a fundraiser for the facility. We really have a pretty unique assortment of activities going on statewide."
The list of community and individual participants, which had reached 140 on the day of the interview, was continuing to grow daily, she added.
Individuals who want to sign up may visit the Plant something MA website, www.plantsomethingMA.org
, and click on the May 15 page.
Conceived by the Arizona Landscape Association in 2006, the Plant Something campaign has now been adopted by flower grower and landscaping associations in seven states. LaFleur said the MFGA and MNLA collaborated this spring to kickoff the event March 12 to 16 at the Boston Flower Show, giving away more than 8,000 mystery seed cups at the Plant Something booth.
"It was a way for us to interact with the public and explain about the Plant Something campaign," LaFleur said. "We invited attendees to come in and plant a seed cup [but] we didn't tell them what they were planting. They had to go to the website to find out [by cup color] and get care instructions."
She said the MFGA and MNLA chose May 15 as the campaign's kickoff date because May is a popular month for people to start working in their yards and gardens. It's also a prime month for plating trees and shrubs – both of which can not only help increase the value of a homeowner's property, but also provide energy and money-saving shade.
She added that falling right after Mother's Day – a popular time for people to visit local garden centers – the date may catch individuals with fresh inspiration and gardening ideas.
LaFleur said Plant Something MA is eventually hoping to repeat the statewide planting events seasonally.
"For our kickoff year we are very focused on May 15 but we hope to be adding other events in other seasons," LaFleur said. "No matter what time of year there is a way to enjoy the green industry and ways for people to reap the benefits of planting."