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Blocks in Bloom


September 03, 2020

The Greening of Communities in Rochester, NY

It all began in 2014 as a two-block pilot project to strengthen a disadvantaged neighborhood in Rochester, NY. Thanks to the efforts of Master Gardeners from the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Monroe County, the Rochester Garden Club (RGC), and the City of Rochester, Blocks in Bloom has impacted more than 71 blocks and 665 households. Neighbors who barely knew each other have transformed neighborhoods. Dry, barren front yards have become mini oases of vegetable and perennial gardens.

Kathy Lewis, a CCE Master Gardener, has put her heart and soul into this project since its inception in 2014. After reading about a new project designed to bring communities and neighbors together by providing free hardy perennials to resident participants, an inquisitive RGC projects chair contacted Ms. Lewis to learn more. Since then, the RGC has supported the project with nearly $10,000 in grant funding and countless volunteer hours. 

CCE mentors have trained block captains, the city has delivered soil to the neighborhoods, and local nurseries and the RGC have donated plants. Moreover, each December, the RGC and 25 Blocks in Bloom families have crafted seasonal swags and door decorations for their homes. 

In March 2020, The American Horticultural Society awarded Blocks in Bloom with its national Community Greening Award “given for exemplary contributions by an individual, institution, or company that demonstrate the application and value of horticulture to creating livable communities that are greener, healthier, and more equitable.” What an apt recognition for this transformational and replicable project.


Blocks in Bloom gardener delighted with her new vegetables. 



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