A Blooming success
KIC and Project Bloom celebrate25 years with Supervisor Angie Carpenter, who presented the group with a citation for their efforts.

Courtesy photo

A Blooming success

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
6/7/2018


ISLIP TOWN—Now that a warmer season is upon us, colorful blooms are springing up at various public locations around the Town of Islip. 

Ever wonder how they got there? 

Project Bloom, a Town of Islip, Keep Islip Clean and Cornell Cooperative Extension partnership, has been supplying many of the flowers that various civic groups have planted in those locations. Last month, during the group’s annual flower distribution day, the volunteers that helped to make the program a huge success celebrated their 25th anniversary.

It all began in 1993 when Cornell’s master gardeners began using the Islip greenhouse at Brookwood Hall in East Islip as a venue to teach local residents about gardening. Students and instructors then decided to distribute the flowers they grew to KIC volunteers.

“Project Bloom produces an incredible amount of flowers, about 6,000-7,000 plants a year,” said KIC director Nancy Cochran.

The program actually commences during the frosty days of February when the greenhouse is opened once again and the volunteers get to work. All of the plants are started from Burpee seeds, which are provided by KIC. Islip Town provides the all important heat, water and maintenance of the greenhouse. Cochran added that in addition to the seeds KIC provides, some of the volunteers also bring along seeds from their own gardens.

Volunteers work for a few hours every Tuesday and Thursday until the plants are grown and can be distributed in May. The greenhouse is then closed until the following February when the process begins again.

“It would be too hot to work in it beyond May,” said horticulturalist Kathleen Cleary, who has been a leader of the program for the past two years.

Cleary noted that there are around 20 volunteers that faithfully work in the program. “Not everyone comes every week, but there has never been a week without volunteers,” she said.

Every year KIC takes requests from various community groups in the town and at the end of the cycle, distributes the annuals and perennials to 25-30 groups that plant the flowers in places such as Islip Beach and the Common Ground in Sayville. 

“These people are fabulous,” said Cochran. “And there’s no downside to [to Project Bloom]. It brings a lot of beauty to our town.”