Lafayette County Master Gardeners are committed to keeping Oxford and Lafayette County 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.
The Master Gardeners work in partnership with the City of Oxford’s Department of Environmental Services for the Adopt-A-Street scheme. The program — a variation of the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program — was implemented in July 2021 and allows individuals, businesses or community organizations to adopt a one-mile segment of a street and remove the debris.
“This [was] very important to Oxford leaders to keep our streets and our city beautiful,” said Michelle Robinson, Environmental Coordinator for Environmental Services. “We hope that with this program we will have more community involvement.”
Oxford leaders didn’t have to worry about commitment. Shortly after the program began, the Master Gardeners and the Oxford Garden Club quickly joined in the cleanup effort. The Master Gardeners adopted South Lamar Boulevard and the Garden Club adopted Bramlett Boulevard.
Adopt-A-Street project manager Jan Henning says the mission of the program also aligns with the missions of the master gardeners and garden club. Both groups are proud of Oxford and want to show off the best the city has to offer.
“Since I moved here nine years ago, litter has been appalling in Oxford and on the motorways,” Henning said. “It’s awful, so we just tried to do our part as master gardeners.”
“I was so excited when this group reached out to me to help with litter issues,” Robinson said. “I think it will be a great program once people hear about it and our streets stay cleaner. They have fun when they do and it only takes a few hours to help our community.
The Master Gardeners and the Garden Club are contracted to pick up the trash three times a year for a two-year period, but both groups go the extra mile and pick up the trash once a month. The master gardeners just finished their monthly cleaning Tuesday at 9 a.m. after the morning rush.
The club encounters everything from beer cans and cigarette butts to vape cartridges and clothing during their cleaning duty. After a session, they can find pounds and pounds of waste. Although it can be tiring, the experience is worth it for the volunteers.
“It’s really fun picking up trash,” Henning said. “It’s a good group of people – we’re mostly retirees and we get a lot of great feedback.”
In addition to guarding Oxford and Lafayette County, the group’s goal is also to serve the community in any way it can, according to Master Gardeners Vice President Karen Travillo. The group is well known for its Master Gardener Series and has just completed its Spring Conferences, but the Master Gardeners can help homeowners and local gardeners with specialized issues.
“We also do home consultations,” Travillo said. “If people have gardening issues, whether it’s their lawn, shrubs or drainage, they can call and we can schedule a home visit. We have the back of the state of Mississippi, so if we run into a problem and don’t know a solution, we can fall back to our extension offices here or we can go directly to all the horticulturists and botanists in the state. State of Mississippi.
Everything master gardeners do is with love for the home they live in. Keeping gardens beautiful and thriving and streets free of debris makes Oxford shine, Travillo said.
“We would like to expand this program and get people to be more aware of the problem we have,” she said. “If you really love Mississippi, you don’t want to clog the streets and highways. It takes away from the natural beauty and integrity of our state and our city.
If a 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 about the Lafayette County Master Gardeners, visit www.lcmga.org. To find out more about the Oxford Garden Club, visit the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/oxfordgardenclub.