Bloomies dig in to beautify Morro Bay

Community volunteers calling themselves Bloomies have spent each Saturday for nearly two years sprucing up Morro Bay.

Project organizer Walter Heath said the mission of Morro Bay In Bloom (MBIB) is to organize people and like-minded groups to beautify public spaces.

“We can be the volunteer labor force for projects that groups determine are needed.” 

The Bloomies have high hopes for a fruitful visit from volunteer judges representing America in Bloom (AIB) on Friday and Saturday. Notables in their fields of horticulture and gardening will spend two days touring Morro Bay, including MBIB landscape projects. AIB is a national grass-roots urban renewal program focused on “gardening therapy” for the beautification of America’s communities.

Heath said although MBIB anticipates a positive assessment, participating in the AIB awards programs comes with broader benefits.

“Before they leave, we’ll get an extensive written report telling us how we excelled and what we can still do to beautify Morro Bay,” he said.

According to the AIB website, the awards program is designed “to help communities harness untapped energy, talent and resources to champion greening, enhance environmental awareness, promote economic development and improve quality of life.”

Early in his first term, Mayor Jamie Irons attended an all-county mayors meeting, Heath said, and Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara challenged the group to get involved with America in Bloom.

“I had asked Mayor Irons to find me a project that would be community affirming. I’d just been diagnosed with leukemia and was in a tailspin,” Heath said, adding that America In Bloom matched his background.

“Growing up in San Francisco, I came from a gardening family. My grandparents raised orchids and tuberous begonias. I started marigolds for my dad. I’m a retired chemist with some experience organizing people. I needed ‘gardening therapy’ in my life.”

MBIB used Facebook to invite interested participants to help with their first project, Morro Bay’s library.

“The landscaping was aging and overgrown,” Heath recalled.

After that, the group tackled the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, which needed major sprucing, Heath said.

Bloomies are now working with Morro Bay Recreation and Parks Director Joe Woods on the Adopt a Park program — whereby community groups volunteer to maintain a city park — and have selected the Centennial Parkway project, which begins at the top of Centennial stairs on Market Street and runs to the dock and water.

“We have big plans to stabilize the hillside and make it look nice,” Heath said. “We’re adding succulents to the planters near DiStasio’s on the Bay. It’s amazing what 10 people can accomplish in two hours.”

Usually their group attracts 10 to 15 or as many as 25 people each Saturday from 9 to 11a.m.

Bloomies are also promoting a public art project, Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival in November that benefits Project Surf Camp and MBIB.

For more information go to www.morrobay