Members of the Manitou Springs Garden Club did not let the pandemic keep them from working hard to keep the city looking vibrant and alive. The group works tirelessly throughout the late winter and early spring bringing in money that is put back into the community through one fundraiser event per year.
The 2020 plant sale was the most profitable sale in the history of the 28-year-old club, despite the pandemic, mask ordinances, shutdowns and social distancing guidelines. If that wasn’t enough, for the first time in its history, the sale was completely donation based, so there was no money to be handled by anyone involved.
“The community was very generous with their donations,” club secretary Jeanie Taylor said. “Some people even came to the sale and donated plants to help us sell.“
Last summer, the club gave out more than $1,000 worth of grants and still had a balance in the bank. After realizing there were funds left over from the grants, club members helped several nonprofit organizations that were participating in the annual GIVE campaign.
In December, they donated $3,000 to Colorado Food Rescue; Palmer Land Conservancy; Westside CARES; Rocky Mountain Field Institute; Trails and Open Space Coalition; and Wild Connections, with each organization receiving $500.
“Each of these were participants in the annual GIVE campaign and each of them are organizations that support the sustainability of the community, people and natural spaces,” Taylor said.
In addition, they gave $1,000 to St. Andrew’s Food Pantry and Colorado State University Extension Office’s Backyard Garden Project, with each of them receiving $500 as well, for a grand total of $4,000 worth of donations in December.
“These funds would not have been possible without the support of the Manitou Springs community”, she added.
Big Plant Sale Coming to Manitou
Members have been busy for the past several weeks potting perennials and annuals in preparation for this year’s sale, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 23 at Schryver Park, 202 Manitou Ave., from 9 a.m. to noon. The park offers adequate space for parking and social distancing guidelines.
According to Taylor, the sale will feature herbs, pineapple sage, rosemary, elecampane, angelica, seal-heal and sweet woodruff, as well as many other types of flowers, plants and buds. She added that the sale will probably be donation based like last year’s was because of the pandemic.
In addition to the annual plant sale, members maintain the community garden at the Mansions behind City Hall and the gardens at the Chamber of Commerce. Meetings have been held virtually until April, when they held their first in-person meeting since the beginning of the pandemic at Community Congregational Church in April, following all state safety protocols.
For the remainder of the year, they will meet in the homes of members, or in other gardens. The goal of the group is to keep Manitou blooming and enrich the community with their knowledge of plants.
The winners of the grants from the garden club were the Haseya Advocate Program, which received $300 to plant fruit trees at the local Native community healing garden, known as Piath Ket Naa Nath in the Ute language. The garden contains indigenous plants with medicinal properties.
Concrete Couch received $300 for its concrete coyote property in southeast Colorado Springs. Staff and volunteers will plant a small pine tree forest and re-vegetate part of the land and grow some vegetables in cold frames.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church received $170 to expand its community garden with another raised garden bed, which will create a space for community connections and gatherings. And Happy Cats Haven received $300 to plant trees in its Purrflection Garden, to provide shade and respite in a previously blighted area.
Manitou Sees Changes in Leadership and Needed Grant Money
In other Manitou news, Natalie Johnson was selected to fill the Ward I seat on the city council to replace Susan Wolbrueck, who resigned last April for personal reasons. Johnson, who is also the executive director at the Manitou Arts Center and a member of the District 14 School Board, was the only applicant for the position. Her term will expire on Jan. 4 and will be on the ballot in November.
Manitou Springs School District 14 received a $275,000 health foundation grant from Colorado Springs Health Foundation to help create a trauma-informed learning environment for students. The funds will help support staff development, assess needs and plan to provide tools for teachers as they adapt their teaching strategies.