Master Gardeners and Oxford Garden Club are committed to cleanup, community service

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Lafayette County Master Gardeners are committed to keeping Oxford and Lafayette County looking beautiful. The gardening organization wants to prove that they are more than just green thumbs, they are dedicated members of the community who live to serve.

Master Gardeners are working in partnership with the City of Oxford’s Environmental Services Department for the Adopt-A-Street program. The program — a variation on the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program — was implemented back in July 2021 and allows Individuals, businesses, or community organizations to adopt a one-mile segment of a street and remove debris. 

“It [was] very important to the Oxford leaders to keep our streets and town looking beautiful,” said Michelle Robinson, Environmental Coordinator for Environmental Services. “We are hoping with this program we will have more community engagement.”

Oxford leaders had no need to worry about engagement. Soon after the program began, Master Gardeners along with the Oxford Garden Club quickly signed on to join the cleanup effort. Master Gardeners adopted South Lamar Boulevard and the Garden Club adopted Bramlett Boulevard.

The Adopt-A-Street project leader Jan Henning says the program’s mission fits in with both the Master Gardeners’ and Garden Club’s missions as well. Both groups take pride in Oxford and want to show the best of the city.

“Ever since I moved here nine years ago, the trash is appalling in Oxford and on the highways,” said Henning. “It’s awful, so we have just tried to do our part as Master Gardeners.”

“I was so excited when this group reached out to me about helping with litter issues,” said Robinson. “I think this is going to be a great program once more people hear about it and our streets will stay cleaner. They have fun when they do it and it only takes a few hours to help our community.”

Both Master Gardeners and the Garden Club are contracted to pick up trash three times a year for a two-year period, but both groups go the extra mile and pick up trash once a month. Master Gardeners just completed their monthly cleanup on Tuesday at 9 a.m. after the morning rush. 

The club encounters anything from beer cans and cigarette butts to vape cartridges and clothing during their cleanup duty. After one session, they can find pounds and pounds of litter. Although it can get tiring, the experience is worth it to the volunteers.

“It’s actually fun, picking up trash,” Henning said. “It’s a good group of people — we’re mostly retirees, and we get a lot of good comments.”

Along with keeping Oxford and Lafayette County, the group’s goal is also to serve the community in an way they can, according to Master Gardeners Vice President Karen Travillo. The group is well known for their Master Gardeners’ series and have just completed their Spring lectures, but Master Gardeners can help homeowners and local gardeners with specialized problems.

“We also do home consults,” Travillo said. “If people are having gardening issues whether it’s their lawn, their shrubs or drainage, they can call up and we can schedule a home visit. We have the back of Mississippi State so if we run into a problem and we’re unaware of a solution, we can fall back on our extension offices here or we can go straight to all the horticulturists and botanists at Mississippi State.”

Everything Master Gardeners does is with a love for the home they live in. Keeping gardens beautiful and thriving and the streets free of debris, makes Oxford shine brighter, said Travillo.

“We’d like to grow this program and get people to be more aware of the problem we have,” she said. “If you truly love Mississippi, you don’t want to litter the streets and the highways. It takes away from the natural beauty and it takes away from the integrity of our state and our city.”

If any person or organization is interested in the City of Oxford’s Adopt-A-Street project contact Environmental Services Coordinator Michelle Robinson at MRobinson@oxfordms.net or (662) 232-2745.

For more information on the Lafayette County Master Gardeners, visit www.lcmga.org. To learn more about the Oxford Garden Club, visit the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/oxfordgardenclub.