Finest on Earth Partner Recognition Event

Blue Thumb partners gather to celebrate a successful year.

Blue Thumb partners gather at Lake Monster Brewing to celebrate a successful year.

If you were not one of the 50+ friends gathered at our second annual partner celebration at Lake Monster Brewing last November, be sure to get it on your calendar for this fall.  It was a wonderful evening of networking and conversations as we honored a few who have made special contributions this past year.

Blue Thumb partners were recognized for their help developing materials, projects and events, and demonstrating our resource-sharing ethos that defines us.

Volunteers who stood out (taking extra shifts at raingarden workshops, the state fair, or hosting and presenting partner trainings) included:

  • Field Outdoor Spaces, Studio Gro, Living Sculpture, and Trio Landscaping
  • We have a number of Master Gardeners and Master Water Stewards who have assisted at events to talk to people about clean water and native plants.

We recognized Freshwater Society for making the Master Water Steward program possible, especially their Program Coordinator Deirdre Coleman.

Visitors take in information at Blue Thumb's state fair exhibit.

Visitors take in information at Blue Thumb’s state fair exhibit.

Our MN State Fair exhibit in 2017 was a great hit with 4,000 estimated attendees and a reported 1,700 interactions. This, in large part, is due to the beautiful native plants that our partners provide for the booth, including: Minnesota Native Landscapes, Glacial Ridge Growers, Ecoscapes, and Jim Nayes of Living Sculpture.

One of our most popular new workshops this year focused on alternative lawns and organic methods to start and maintain turf.  Blue Thumb Partners who helped make these informative programs so successful include:

  • Bob Dahm of Organic Bob, Madeline Seveland of Carver County, and Douglas Owens-Pike, author of Beautifully Sustainable, plus our native plant experts Roy Robison from Landscape Alternatives and Dan Shaw, BSWR.

New Partners who joined Blue Thumb in 2017 include: City of Minneapolis, My Garden Goddess, and Morning Dew Gardening.

This year we created a new Blue Thumb Partner category for Sponsoring Partners.  Blue Thumb is now a program of Metro Blooms.  As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, we are able to accept donations.  Those donations qualify as a tax deduction.

  • We are thrilled to recognize Aveda, our first Blue Thumb Sponsoring Partner, who supported Blue Thumb with a generous contribution of $2,000.  This will be applied toward developing new resources. Amy Rice of Aveda, thank you for your support for Plantings for Clean Water!

Blue Thumb is lucky to draw on a pool of able and willing individuals who step forward to lead the program. The evening included recognition of the transfer of Blue Thumb from Rice Creek Watershed District to Metro Blooms.  Several people who served on the transition team were present or recognized that evening: Sage Passi, Bob Wolk, Douglas Owens-Pike, Susan Nelson, Pat Sillerud, and Jon Olson.

Lastly, a special thank you to our MC’s for the evening: Melissa King, from the City of Faribault who chairs our Blue Thumb Steering Committee, and Beth Carreno, from Rice Creek Watershed District.

Here are a few statements from award winners about who they are and why they believe in Blue Thumb:

“Freshwater and the Master Water Steward program are bolstered by our partnerships with organizations like Metro Blooms and the Blue Thumb program. Sharing knowledge, resources and stories are how we get the best work done. We are thankful to have such partners!  The mission of Freshwater Society is to inspire and activate people to value, preserve and restore freshwater resources.”

               -Deirdre Coleman, Program Coordinator, Freshwater Society

“Our Blue Thumb partnership melds perfectly with our Field Outdoor Spaces mission.  Designing and planting for clean water is key to creating smart, sustainable urban landscapes.  We feel strongly that raingardens and native plantings are not only functional, but also an amazing opportunity to showcase natural stonework and architectural features in the landscape.  For several years, we’ve volunteered at Blue Thumb workshops and events, including the Raingarden and Alternative Turf Workshops and the State Fair Eco Experience.  It is always fun to meet people one on one to educate, answer questions, and brainstorm to solve problems all while getting to talk about what we love!  

“Since 2005, Field Outdoor Spaces has helped urban Minneapolis and St. Paul homeowners get the most from their limited outdoor spaces. We design and build dynamic and high-impact landscapes that are easy to care for.  Field offers a conscientious approach to designing and installing landscapes. Our work focuses on maximizing small urban spaces in ways that are smart and sustainable.  Field is entirely powered by our employees’ creativity, enthusiasm and hard work. We pay our employees a living wage and provide an environment that supports and builds our employees skills and leadership.”

               -Ann Davenport, Project Manager, Field Outdoor Spaces

“Many MN Native Landscape employees have been able to join in our efforts of community outreach, but I probably have the luck of getting out most often. I find it very rewarding to share my knowledge of native plants, pollinators, and ecosystem function to school groups, the public, and other professionals throughout the state.

“MNL is currently celebrating our 20th year in business! We’ve really expanded our vision since our early years to an all-inclusive ecological restoration company. Not only are we now getting out into the community and speaking on BMP’s and IPM to professionals, we’re teaching public workshops, speaking in schools, and hosting “pop up” plant sales. Our service offerings have expanded from prairie, wetland, and woodland restoration to include rain garden construction, riverbank reconstruction, bio-engineering, and our prescribed burn program has grown extensively since MNL acquired Red Rock Fire last year. In addition, MNL’s native plant production capabilities have vastly increased with more production acres, diverse seed mix options, more locally sourced and unique species, and adding our Lonsdale production location – formerly Prairie Meadows Native Seed.”

               -Bre Bauerly, Outreach Coordinator, Minnesota Native Landscapes

“I volunteer for Blue Thumb because the organization helps provide resources on native plants, sustainable landscaping, and other topics that I would like to push out to our citizens.  I enjoy volunteering at the State Fair booth because we are now at a point where we don’t have to spend the energy convincing people to be interested. They are interested, and it’s exciting and enjoyable to share native plant knowledge with them and help them solve problems.

“Carver County Water Management Organization’s mission is to protect, preserve and manage surface waters and groundwaters in the midst of rapid growth and intensive agricultural activity.”

               -Madeline Seveland, Education Coordinator, Carver County Water Management Organization

“TRIO, a Blue Thumb Partner for years, supports their efforts to educate and inform of the benefits and opportunities for improving water quality. They bring together leadership of our communities, improving understanding of best options for water stewardship and green infrastructure, and sharing that knowledge with those living and working in these communities.  I love meeting the people, working with them, sharing ideas, and hearing back how we are making a difference.  Blue Thumb provides me strength and support for TRIO with our shared values. 

“TRIO provides consultation, design and project management for residential outdoor living. Often in urban settings, our clients desire more sustainably functional landscapes. Our design solutions include: proper grades, raingardens, ideal planting selection, creative drainage solutions, and functional spaces that work best for them.  Great design is something that is usable and functional at the same time with a touch of beauty to make it really shine- that is why we are landscape designers!”

               -Diana Grundeen, Owner and Landscape Designer, TRIO Landscaping

  Written by Douglas Owens-Pike, author of Beautifully Sustainable