Brandon Parks '13 (landscape horticulture) was recently named the winner of a design competition conducted by A. I. Root Company in Medina, Ohio.
The project which, sought to bring their history as candle makers and bee stewards together in a project involving ATI’s landscape horticulture program began with Kim Flottum, world-renowned bee expert and editor of Bee Culture Magazine, published by the A. I. Root Company. His idea was to develop a competition among Ohio’s landscape programs to design bee-friendly landscaping around A. I. Root’s offices.
Flottum approached Denise Ellsworth, program director of honey bee and native pollinator education with OSUE in Wayne County. Ellsworth put him in touch with Dr. Laura Deeter, coordinator of ATI’s landscape horticulture program. “I provided names of other landscape program advisors but then suggested he come down to visit with me about the scale of the project,” Deeter said.
Flottum, Ellsworth and Floyd Ostrowski, vice president of operations for A. I. Root, met with Deeter at the beginning of December. “I quickly recognized that their original idea was well beyond the scope of design students and suggested that we concentrate on one area,” Deeter explained. “They selected the front of the historic homestead. At this point, they also decided that our students would be tasked with this project and it wouldn’t be an interscholastic competition.”
After visiting the homestead, Deeter felt it was perfect for her students, small enough not to be intimidating, but for a well-respected company and with very specific plant and site needs: in this case, public and bee friendly, while complementing the historic home – no small task. She decided to make the project part of her Landscape Design II class in spring semester.
Early in the semester, the class traveled to A. I. Root to take measurements and get an idea of what company officials had in mind. Midway through the semester, the students presented their preliminary plans to the company and were able to hear valuable feedback. For example, the bees currently take a specific flight path to cross the street and that takes them over a sidewalk and roadway. Could the students create a design that would alter this?
At the beginning of May, A. I. Root hosted a luncheon at which Deeter and her students presented their final plans to a group of judges consisting of local garden club members, extension members and local landscape business leaders. The judges provided feedback on the designs to company personnel, allowing them to select one design.
“A. I. Root has several other areas that need design work,” said Deeter. “I really hope we can continue this relationship into the future with other classes.”