Judges from the Communities in Bloom international competition will make an important visit to Ocala on June 20–22. They’ll be evaluating our city’s exceptional natural environment and the results of our public and private beautification efforts.
The International Challenge of the 2008 Communities in Bloom program invites winners from various national and provincial competitions similar to the America in Bloom (AIB) program to be evaluated alongside other international cities in their population categories.
“We became eligible to compete internationally because of our top national award last year,” explains Pamela Stafford, chairperson of the Ocala Pride in Bloom Committee. In 2007, Ocala was the national winner of the AIB’s Medium-Size Community division in the 50,001-100,000 population category.
For the 2008 International Community in Bloom program, judges will evaluate Ocala on eight different criteria. The evaluation provides a unique overview of a community’s attractiveness as a place to live, work, play, and visit.
The median on Fort King Street.
Judges evaluate locations throughout the city, such as road medians and shoulders, sidewalks, and vacant lots, for their neatness.
Scott Springs in Celebrate 2000 Park on SW 24th Avenue.
2. Environmental Awareness
This criterion examines the city’s sustainable development as well as the policies that foster it. Waste reduction, recycling efforts, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), environmental cleanup activities, and eco-friendly transportation are also evaluated.
(L-R) Ocala Pride In Bloom committee representatives Kathleen Patterson,
Betty Young, and Pamela Stafford.
3. Community Involvement
Judges look at citizen involvement in projects that better the community, including horticulture and garden clubs, recreation and sports clubs, and service groups.
The city gates on SW 1st Avenue got a much-needed facelift.
4. Natural & Cultural Heritage Conservation
The city is judged on its heritage policies and management plans. Preservation and/or restoration of such historically valuable items as homes, churches, monuments, parks, and trees is evaluated.
Ocala Municipal Golf Course off SR 40.
5. Trees/Urban Forest Management
This criterion includes the distribution, variety, suitability, preservation, and new planting of trees, as well as the availability of qualified personnel for professional maintenance, pruning, and IPM.
Ocala City Hall.
6. Landscaped Areas
Judges examine the city’s efforts to create an environment where plants are an essential element to the overall surroundings, including design, suitability, balance, harmony, and integration.
7. Floral Displays
Evaluation is based on the arrangements of flowers and plants in addition to originality, distribution, location, quality, and maintenance of flowerbeds, carpet bedding, containers, and window boxes.
East Silver Springs Blvd.
8. Turf & Groundcovers
This criterion looks at the quality, naturalization, and use of groundcovers and wildflowers as well as turf management, maintenance, IPM, fertilization, and irrigation. Examined areas include private residences, public buildings, sports fields, and athletic parks.
Ocala’s Bloomin’ History
The highly respected America in Bloom (AIB) program encourages beautification efforts of participating U.S. communities. It recognizes the success of those efforts and the cooperative work of a community’s government, citizens, businesses, and other groups to promote quality of life and civic pride.
Each year, AIB sponsors a friendly competition among communities to recognize successful beautification efforts. In 2005, Ocala became the first Florida community to participate in the program. That year, our fair city was honored as the country’s overall winner in the Turf & Groundcover category and received special recognition in the Heritage Conservation category. The following year, Ocala was named the national winner in the Urban Forestry category.
In 2007, Ocala received a national Five Bloom Award for Community Environmental Awareness. And the city did so well overall that it was named the winning AIB Medium-Size Community award.
Quite an honor! Ocala’s success has even inspired a number of other Florida cities to participate in the national program this year.
Communities in Bloom, which began in Canada, was the first recognized organization of its kind. America in Bloom and similar programs in other countries are outgrowths of the Canadian initiative, and Communities in Bloom sponsors the International Challenge. For more information, visit americainbloom.org and communitiesinbloom.org
Want to know more?
If you’d like to participate in this year’s Ocala Pride in Bloom
effort to help our community attain worldwide recognition, call
the Ocala Recreation & Parks Department at (352) 368-5550.