By Seamus Gallivan
The story of Day Three at the 2012 National Garden Festival’s Front Yard Contest was the crew of volunteers corralled by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC), teaming with Master Gardeners from the Cornell Cooperative Extension to further transform a growing number of front lawns on Riverside Park-bordering Crowley Ave.
Extending Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision of connecting the city through his historic parks system, BOPC’s call for volunteers brought parks supporters from well beyond the Riverside neighborhood being beautified, such as West Seneca resident Cindy Battista. “We just love all the parks and this whole story,” she said, her teenage son at her side. “I took a vacation day and he’s off from school – it’s great to be able to help out. These parks are our treasures, we’re so lucky to have them; we live close to them as well, for us it’s Cazenovia Park.
“This is fantastic,” she added as she observed the arrival of another round of flowers. “It builds community among these residents, the parks, the master gardeners, and people like us who have no special skills but are willing to help.”
Cornell Master Gardener Marlene Liberti, who also has a hands-on role with Buffalo in Bloom, marveled at the scene she and Cindy shared in. “This is one of the best things to happen for our parks system – just look at that,” she said as she pointed toward BOPC CEO Thomas Herrera-Mishler doing yard work a few feet away. “That’s the head of our parks fixing up a front lawn of parks neighbor – this is special.”
The occasion is special for the conservancy as well. “It’s not very often we get to work with the community out on their turf – usually, people come to us, so having that level of collaboration with the neighborhood is wonderful,” said BOPC Manager of Volunteers Steven Nagowski. “The neighbors have been great. They’ve been very supportive and are out here helping us – we’re having a blast.”