Photo by Abbey Reighard
Volunteers helped spruce up the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation Garden in 12 different locations on May 17.

By Abbey Reighard

Susan Benn’s philosophy is that when gardens grow, the community grows.

On Saturday, May 17 the Brighton Heights Citizen Federation’s Garden and Green Space Committee and volunteers planted flowers from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Benn, the Garden and Green Space committee chair, said 30 volunteers came out to plant flowers in 12 locations located near the Brighton Heights office building, 3629 California Ave.

The volunteers were provided with gloves and tools for planting by committee members and the volunteers were also offered coffee, donuts and fruit.

The BHCF has over 400 members who work to involve people in the ongoing projects in the Brighton Heights area, according to its official website.

The Federation has held an Annual Flower Planting Day for over 30 years, according to Joan Bellisario, BHCF treasurer for the past 15 years and reporter for the BHCF newsletter.

The Green Space Garden Committee is made up of 12 members, including Benn, who does regular volunteer work with the gardens. Benn added that there are between 30 to 40 volunteers who help with projects the committee plans throughout the planting and growing seasons.

According to Benn, after the gardens are planted every year in the spring the committee members and other volunteers dedicate around 15 hours every week to maintain the garden spaces, until the end of the season in October.

While the Committee and volunteers were planting at the different locations, Helen Lorinic, who serves as the BHCF membership committee chairperson, collected donations from people driving down Brighton Heights Boulevard.

Lorinic collected $170 that will go to the Garden and Green Space Committee’s flower fund.

One of the projects the committee started this year is the “Bird House Lot,” a project committee member Adam Hnakovitch has taken on.

Benn described Hnakovitch, who has been a Committee member for over a year, as a “cool guy with great ideas.”

The garden will be located at the lot adjacent to the office of Adam Ravenstahl, at the corner of California Avenue and Brighton Heights Boulevard.

Hnakovitch built three birdhouses that he will place in the garden. He added that he wants the garden to have a “rustic country farm” look to it. Hnakovitch plans to fill the lot with native species of plants such as Goldenrod flowers, native shrubs and wild strawberries.

The “Bird House Lot” should be complete in the next three years.

Hnatkovitch said he wants to showcase the new project to the traffic that passes through the intersection where the “Bird House Lot” will be located, and show people who see the new garden space “that you can have a native species garden for relatively cheap, and one that is relatively easy to maintain.”

Benn said she hopes the gardens will help to attract attention from people passing through the area.

“The purpose [of planting gardens] is to showcase our neighborhood and show how [Brighton Heights] is a really nice place to live,” Benn said.

Benn added that the volunteer work allows people who live in the Brighton Heights area to work together.

“People come out and volunteer and meet their neighbors,” Benn said. “It builds the community.”