Garden club decorates Elgin streets

By Trish Yerges, Correspondent May 23, 2012 03:19 pm

DIRT DIGGERS’ PLANT SALE: Two hundred plants were sold at the plant sale by noon Friday. From left, are Phyllis Thompson, Mary Davidson, Barbara Hawes, customers Gail Pope and her mother, Dorothy Pope, (rear) Renee Rose and Eva Way. TRISH YERGES photo
DIRT DIGGERS’ PLANT SALE: Two hundred plants were sold at the plant sale by noon Friday. From left, are Phyllis Thompson, Mary Davidson, Barbara Hawes, customers Gail Pope and her mother, Dorothy Pope, (rear) Renee Rose and Eva Way. TRISH YERGES photo

The Elgin Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the planting of about 100 flower barrels last Friday with the help of 25 green-thumbed volunteers from the community.

Maureen Smolkowski and Jessica Anderson from the chamber led the beautification project in association with members of the Dirt Diggers garden club, community volunteers, employees from U.S. Bank and Community Bank, students from Elgin High School’s Future Business Leaders of America organization and the National Honor Society.  

The plants were grown by the Elgin and Imbler chapters of the Future Farmers of America.

“We started with 800 plants for the barrels and planted all but 70 of them,” said Renee Rose of the Dirt Diggers.  “Elgin’s FFA donated 400 of the plants and the other 400 plants we purchased from Imbler’s FFA.”

The project’s scope was enlarged this year, thanks to an increase in planting barrels.  

To prepare the new barrels for planting, EHS students Nick Smolkowski, Austin Eckstein, Brian Collins and Ty Bowen volunteered to drill drainage holes in them. The barrels were placed around town and filled with rich, black dirt.

Volunteers from both U.S. Bank and Community Bank helped plant flowers out as did other city volunteers, including Peggy Hayes, Cindy Chandler, Nancy Crawford and Steve Oliver of the Elgin Lions.  

Money for the project was donated by the Women’s Service Club.

“Also kids from Elgin’s Future Business Leaders of America organization planted barrels around town,” said Rose.

Among them were EHS freshmen Drew Durbin and Brenna Balylock, along with Colt Silver, an EHS junior representing the National Honor Society.  They worked from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and planted 15 barrels with flowers. 

The FBLA advisor suggested the project to the students as a way they could accrue required community service hours.

 “It gets us involved with the community and gives us a sense of pride when we look at what we’ve done and say, ‘Hey, I helped out with that,’” said Silver.

 Amidst all the planting, the Dirt Diggers’ plant sale was going strong. 

 “We started with 400 plants to sell and sold about half of them by 11 a.m.,” said Rose.

 The Dirt Diggers have about 17 members and welcome more.

Each spring they sell hearty, colorful flowers and vegetable plants for the garden and home.