Take a look at Peg DeGrassa’s, Delco Times 7/10/2017, article about NSiB!

National America In Bloom judges visit Newtown Township to rate beautification efforts

NEWTOWN >> Highways, byways, businesses and residences in Newtown Square are blooming in beauty these days and a dedicated group of residents and volunteers are hoping the judges will think the community is as award-winning and lovely as they do.

Volunteers from Newtown Square in Bloom (NSIB), including NSIB President Paul Seligson and NSIB members Joe and Joyce Berry, accompanied judges from the national organization America in Bloom (AIB) to sites around town last Thursday and Friday to allow them to inspect and score the town’s effort to be named a “Five Bloom Town.” Newtown is also competing against other “In Bloom” communities for several other prestigious distinctions, all in the name of invoking aesthetic pleasure through nature.

For two full days, America In Bloom Judges Linda Cromer of Indiana and Barbara Vincentsen of South Carolina toured Newtown’s residential gardens and surrounding neighborhoods, floral displays, hanging baskets along highways, and municipal landscaping, as well as local parks and the beautification efforts of homes and businesses. Specific visits included Florida Park, Echo Valley, the Heights and Brookside Park. Besides the Hanging Baskets, which are themed this year in Bubblegum Pink and deep shades of red, members of Newtown Square in Bloom installed floral displays along St Albans Circle, the township’s bus stops, the Butterfly Garden at Drexel Lodge Park, and changed the two Welcome Signs in the median of West Chester Pike three times a year.

Newtown Square is the only town in Pennsylvania to belong to the national organization America in Bloom. The organization is based on a vision of communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places to live, work, and play and benefitting from colorful plants and trees; enjoying clean environments; celebrating heritage; and planting pride through volunteerism. NSIB is a natural spin-off from the Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC).

Judges Cromer and Vincentsen explained that the AIB program encourages environmental sustainability, while urging participants to have fun while beautifying and enhancing communities, to take ownership of the beautification, connect with others in their neighborhood, and have pride of place.

“Every year our towns in America have less and less in their budgets for these kinds of community enhancements,” explained Cromer. “And that’s why organizations like ours grow in importance. Communities depend on the private and business sectors getting involved. Both AIB and NSIB are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and we are there solely for the betterment of our communities.”

The NSIB committee is a core group of about 12 active volunteers who depend on the generosity of hundreds of other volunteers, including scout and school groups, individuals and businesses, to pitch in and help. Among them are Newtown residents Joe and Joyce Berry who oversee the beautification efforts at Newtown’s historical sites.

“Newtown Township has over 125 historical buildings,” Berry, also a member of the Newtown Square Historical Society, pointed out. “We have five national historical sites right here. We try to keep these sites beautiful and well-groomed as part of our NSIB efforts because they are historical treasures.”

Resident volunteer Chris Rafferty helps by regularly watering the floral displays at bus stops and at the Square Tavern. In addition to the outpouring of donations by both residents and businesses, NSIB’s efforts are made possible through the extraordinary, generous efforts of Mostardi Nursery, Ryan Tree & Landscaping and Newtown Township Public Works Department.

Lush hanging baskets and floral displays that are visible along the roadways in the township are made possible through a group effort. Mostardi’s Nursery, which donates labor and knowledge, carefully recommends the flower types and nurtures the seedlings in its greenhouses. Flower types must be able to withstand constant temperatures in the 90s each summer, as well as other specific weather conditions. Newtown’s Public Works Department picks up the baskets at Mostardi’s and delivers them to 130 poles throughout the township. Ryan Tree & Landscaping comes along and hangs the baskets as a community service. The Public Works Department then waters them throughout the summer and when the season ends on Oct. 15, the township’s Public Works employees will also help to remove the baskets.

NSIB board members designed an itinerary for the judges so that they won’t miss any of the town’s efforts. Cromer and Vincentsen will look at the community’s floral displays, landscaping designs, urban forestry, historic preservation, environmental efforts and overall impression, with very specific criteria for judging. Before all is said and done, AIB judges will travel coast to coast, covering more than 63,700 miles, visiting the 40 communities involved in this year’s edition of America in Bloom.

“Newtown Township looks lovely,” said Cromer. “Barbara and I have been judges for a long, long time and this is one of the best itineraries that we’ve ever seen.”

The 2017 entry is the fourth year that NSIB threw its hat in the ring for the competition. In a 1-5 bloom rating system, with 5 being the best, Newtown Square was named a three-bloom city in its first two years in the competition and last year, the township was recognized as a four-bloom community. The volunteers have their fingers crossed that they will garner a five-bloom rating this year. AIB judges change each year so that each community can be viewed through a fresh set of eyes without any prior prejudice or knowledge of past years.

The 2017 winners will be named during the first weekend in October at AIB’s national symposium to be held in Holliston, Mass.

Berry said the value of entering the national competition is not just to garner the prestigious blooms in the rating system or to receive specific awards at the symposium. He claims the most valuable result of the competition is receiving the twenty-plus page profile report that will be sent to NSIB, following the judges’ visit. The report’s evaluation and recommendations offer ideas and concrete suggestions to improve NSIB’s efforts and projects.

“People in town, and even from out of town, really appreciate our efforts and the beauty here,” remarked Seligson, who is also chair of the township’s Parks and Recreation committee.

Donations to the continued efforts of Newtown Township beautification, which are fully tax deductible, may be mailed to Newtown Square in Bloom, Box 592, Newtown Square, PA 19073. In addition to monetary donations, volunteers are also always needed. For more information, e-mail [email protected] or check out the “Newtown Square in Bloom” Facebook page. For more information on America In Bloom, visit www.americainbloom.org/.

Newtown Square Welcome Signs

Every Spring and Fall, our volunteers clean up and replant seasonal flowers and shrubs on West Chester Pike.

Newtown Square Arbor Day

Members of NSiB joined forces with Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) and the Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association to plant trees and clear trash from the stream side at Drexel Lodge Park in 2016. In 2017, we were at Brookside Park. Check out our Gallery of photos to see our Arbor Day 2017 photos!

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