Winners Hail from Rhode Island, Virginia and Wyoming
ST. LOUIS (May 22, 2012)—National Garden Clubs Inc. recently announced the winners of its highest honor: the 2012 Award of Excellence. The winners, who were recognized at NGC’s annual convention May 19 in Buffalo, N.Y., include Southside Community Land Trust of Providence, R.I., Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers of Richmond, Va., and Shane Smith of Cheyenne, Wyo.
“The Award of Excellence program annually recognizes three truly exceptional individuals, organizations or institutions that have made significant contributions to their communities in such areas as environmental and civic responsibility, conservation, beautification and promoting the love of gardening,” says Shirley Nicolai, president, National Garden Clubs. “By recognizing these deserving award recipients from different parts of the nation, NGC hopes to educate and inspire others in communities coast-to-coast.” National Garden Clubs Inc. is recognized as the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world.
Nominated by Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., Southside Community Land Trust, www.southsideclt.org is an organization that fosters awareness of urban and sustainable agriculture programs and provides land, education, tools and support to encourage people to grow food in Greater Providence. The organization was selected for the Award of Excellence based on its local efforts to provide ongoing gardening education and offer comprehensive urban agriculture programs. Among the many programs offered by Southside Community Land Trust are 13 neighborhood-based community gardens, a city farm located in the heart of Providence, and the Urban Edge Farm, a 50-acre business model farm that offers new area farmers a place to make the transition to commercial agriculture. Southside Community Land Trust also created an urban agriculture task force that brings together a coalition of growers, community professionals and environmentalists to collaborate with community development groups, farmers, chefs, policymakers and health care professionals to promote practices and policies that strengthen Providence’s local food systems. Katherine Brown, executive director, Southside Community Land Trust, accepted the Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs Inc.
Nominated by Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers, www.stranges.com, is one of Virginia’s largest greenhouse growers and one of the largest retail garden centers in the U.S. Strange’s, which has been led by four generations of the Gouldin family, has been a fixture in the local Richmond and Virginia business community for 75 years. They are one of the state’s largest greenhouse growers, as well as one of the largest retail/grower organizations and garden centers in the U.S., offering a wide variety of flowering and green plants to gardening enthusiasts as a viable alternative to “big box” greenhouse retailers. Strange’s offers to the consumer gardening educational opportunities through in-house seminars and how-to instructional materials. As a retail florist, Strange’s is a member of the Florist Transworld Delivery Association and is consistently ranked in the nation’s top 40 FTD florists for wire orders. They also support the work of numerous civic and non-profit organizations through sponsorships and donations of plants and floral materials, including the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Orchid Show. William J. Gouldin, Jr., president, Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers, accepted the Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs Inc.
Shane Smith, who was nominated by Wyoming Federation of Garden Clubs Inc., is a noted garden author, consultant and the director and founder of the award-winning Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, www.botanic.org Wyoming’s only public botanical garden. This nationally recognized garden has been lauded for striving to promote the beautification and enrichment of the High Plains through gardening, volunteerism, education and stewardship. In the 1970s, Smith’s vision was to create a non-profit botanic garden and sustainability center in Cheyenne—a city situated 6,000 feet above sea level renowned for its harsh weather conditions. As part of this vision, Smith also directed the area’s efforts to construct one of the nation’s first solar-heated greenhouses on the site. He also was instrumental in developing the Paul Smith Children’s Village, the first public children’s garden in the U.S. to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Smith is the author of the Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, the top-selling greenhouse book on Amazon.com. He serves coast-to-coast and internationally as a guest lecturer and consultant on greenhouse gardening, community greening, horticulture therapy and community-based botanic gardens.
Headquartered in St. Louis, National Garden Clubs Inc. (www.gardenclub.org) is comprised of nearly 190,000 members, 6,000 local clubs, eight regions, 50 state clubs, a National Capital Area club, and hundreds of international affiliates. NGC offers members extensive educational programs on topics of current interest such as plantings for public spaces, protecting aquatic ecosystems, greening and beautifying the community, conservation, recycling, floral design, flower shows, garden therapy, healing gardens and youth programs. Working in partnership with other organizations, NGC offers several projects, including Habitat for Humanity Landscaping and Penny Pines. Among NGC’s most nationally honored projects are the Blue Star Memorial marker program and funding and support for the Butterfly Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
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