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Alma receives multiple awards from River Valley Master Gardeners

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier

Alma has received multiple awards from the River Valley Master Gardeners. These awards include RVMG Project of 2020, Business Friend of the RVMG Award, and two locals also received awards. 

The Popeye Garden in downtown Alma received the Project of the Year Award. Once known as the "Spinach Capital of the World" because of the now-closed Allen's Inc. vegetable cannery, Alma still holds a special place for spinach eaters, and the famous cartoon character who ate spinach to gain super powers. The garden was built in 2007 and features a bronze statue of the cartoon character Popeye standing in a fountain in the middle of the garden. Many volunteers have worked over the years to keep the garden in the best shape possible. 

Alma has received multiple awards from the River Valley Master Gardeners including their work at the Popeye statue in downtown Alma.

The garden contains ornamental grasses, roses, and perennials bordering the sidewalk, as well as seasonal plants. Downtown Alma has been undergoing changes in the past year because of the streetscape project. The project has turned Fayetteville Avenue into a tree lined boulevard with the addition of many flowers stretching down the street. 

Alma also received the Friend of RVMG award. According to the RVMG, The Master Gardener team knows it can count on city workers to help make the area more accommodating. The streetscape project played a large hand in getting the city this award. The city has worked to get sidewalks around the garden fixed, provided a storage shed for the gardeners, removed a concrete blocked, and relocated a water source to make the area around the garden more appealing.

Ken Byrd of Crawford County received the River Valley Master Gardener of the Year Award. Byrd has been a Master Gardener since 2018 and also received the Silver Trowel Award for his dedication to the goals of the program. He is on the Recruitment, Recognition, and Retention Committee, and has managed to gather 15 candidates for next year's training. Byrd has accrued a total of 155 sanctioned volunteer hours.

For her work on the Popeye Garden, Alma local Shannon Newerth was awarded Rookie of the Year by the River Valley Master Gardener. Newerth completed a class provided by the organization and immediately began working on the Popeye Garden. She has totaled 77 volunteer hours.