Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County received the 2020 Community Greening Award from the American Horticultural Society for its Blocks in Bloom program.
This award recognizes exemplary contributions by an individual, institution or company demonstrating the application and value of horticulture in creating livable communities that are greener, healthier and more equitable.
Blocks in Bloom started in 2014 as a pilot initiative of CCE Monroe’s Master Gardener program. It aims to unite low-income communities in the city of Rochester by providing free perennials to resident participants. Master Gardener volunteers educate residents in preparing, planting and maintaining their front-yard flower gardens.
A leadership development component was added to the program in 2018, enabling local residents to become mentors to others just starting their gardens. Blocks in Bloom grew from serving two blocks with 15 households in 2014 to 15 blocks with 135 households in 2019.
The program is designed to be sustainable by relying on volunteers and material donations, as well as replicable.
The Greening Award is one of the Great American Gardeners Awards annually presented by AHS to individuals, organizations and businesses that represent the best in American gardening. Each recipient contributed significantly to fields such as scientific research, garden communication, landscape design, youth gardening and conservation. Visit ahsgardening.org for information.
Blocks in Bloom needs local gardeners willing to donate perennial divisions, along with residents of lower-income neighborhoods willing to organize new gardeners on their blocks. Call (585) 753-2558 or email scm268@cornell.edu if interested.