By KATHLEEN EVANOFF
Liberty Community News
An idea that began nine years ago when three township women decided to beautify their community by planting flowers is still blooming.
Liberty Community News / Kathleen Evanoff
Janice Koombs, front, and Carol Cupan plant flowers in front of the entrance to Churchill Park on Belmont Avenue. More than 30 volunteers from ‘‘Liberty Blooms’’ help to beautify the township by planting flowers at various locations throughout the area including the triangle garden at the I-80 and Belmont interchange and at the township administration building on Churchill Road.
Liberty Park and Program Coordinator June Smallwood, Township Trustee Jodi Stoyak and Mahoning County Master Gardener Bessie Anderson began by planting three beds of flowers along the Interstate I-80 access ramp on Belmont Avenue. Their efforts have resulted in more than 30 volunteers who spend at least one week each spring planting hundreds of flowers throughout the community.
Garden beds are now along either side of the I-80 bridge, the I-80 triangle garden, Churchill park, the township administration building and other locations.
''We have fun,'' Stoyak said.
Near the end of May each year, hundreds of flats of flowers are delivered to the Andersons' driveway. Volunteers spend two hours day for up to four days planting the flowers. It takes about a week to get them all planted, Stoyak said. The gardens are maintained by summer employees.
''We plant things that are low-maintenance,'' Stoyak said, ''and we depend a lot on Mother Nature to help us with the watering.''
This year, the volunteers are utilizing moisture crystals in their plantings to retain water as well. Moisture crystals are small polymer pieces that absorb water and release it slowly back into the soil.
The purpose of the gardens was to instill community pride, Smallwood said.
Volunteers are hoping the plantings will encourage business owners along Belmont Avenue to plant flowers as well.
''We have noticed some businesses have already begun planting flowers where there were none in previous years,'' Stoyak said.
In addition to annual flowers, some beds also have perennial grasses and shrubs to give winter interest to the community when flowers are not blooming.
Liberty Blooms is funded through donations and by the township's aluminum recycling program.