UF/IFAS Martin County Cooperative
Extension receives wildflower grant
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Martin County Cooperative Extension is the recipient of a 2013 La Florida, Land of Flowers, Community Grant funded by Florida’s State Wildflower license plate. The grant funds will purchase $500 of native wildflower seeds, which will be planted in late fall along the roadside at the north entrance to the UF/IFAS Martin County Cooperative Extension Office and the Martin County Fairgrounds at 2614 SE Dixie Highway in Stuart.
Two volunteer groups coordinated by the UF/IFAS Martin County Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners and 4-H, will work alongside the Martin County Fairgrounds and Martin County Parks & Recreation Department staff, to establish and maintain the plantings. The planting will offer educational opportunities, linking Master Gardener volunteers with 4-H youth, who will learn proper planting techniques and plant identification.
Visitors to the Extension Office and Fairgrounds will find educational signs and literature, describing the featured wildflowers. The goals of the project are to build community awareness and knowledge of native wildflowers and plants and their roles in Florida’s ecosystems. These native wildflowers, some of the species Ponce de Leon saw here 500 years ago when he named this North American peninsula “La Florida, Land of Flowers,” will add beauty and curb appeal to the Fairgrounds and Extension entrance. In addition, the plantings will attract butterflies and other native pollinators and reduce the need to fertilize, irrigate, and mow the area. Less frequent mowing saves energy and requires less manpower.
The UF/IFAS Martin County Extension Master Gardeners and the Martin County Parks & Recreation Department were also co-recipients last year of a 2012 La Florida Community Wildflower Grant. The wildflowers planted last December in the entry medians at Halpatiokee Regional Park have been in full bloom since February. A variety of species were chosen to provide year-round color and beauty.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation, whose mission is to enrich lives with Florida’s native wildflowers, administers the “La Florida” grants program. The UF/IFAS Martin County Extension Master Gardener program trains and maintains horticulture volunteers for the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service. The goals of this program are to increase the availability of horticultural information for the community at large and to improve the quality of life for the residents of Martin County through horticulture volunteer activities. The UF/IFAS Martin County 4-H program helps youth reach their fullest potential through developing life-skills, learning by doing, and utilizing the knowledge of the land-grant university system.