Apalachicola marked the community’s renewed commitment to its many green thumbs, as it gathered April 22 at the community garden to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Earth Day and Arbor Day combined event.

“This is a gardening town, this is a green town,” said Jenny Billings, who has been instrumental in seeing to it that the community garden has become a phenomenal success.

Currently there is a waiting list of interested parties, as 48 gardeners tend to 29 raised beds.

“The state of our gardens is fabulous,” said Billings, as she listed the growing number of successful public gardening spots, including the newest one put in at the Holy Family Senior Center by University of Florida students on their spring break as part of the Arts in Medicine program.

Billings also cited the work that volunteers John and Judy Rutz have done in gardening at Riverfront and Lafayette parks, and in the growth that has taken pace at the Orman House and Chapman Botanical Gardens.

She noted that the city’s tree committee, which comprises Geoff Hewell, Robin Vroegop, Bruce Hall, Caroline Weiler and Beth Wright, plans to plant a live oak this week at Battery Park, just as it did earlier this year next to the pavilion at the community gardens.

“We’re taking care of business here, in honor of being a Tree City,” she said.

In his remarks, Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson praised the community gardens, and the spirit that pervades the work going on there.

“Sometimes I wish that I could harvest that support and the friendships that have blossomed and risen from this place - just to apply them to every facet of our national, state, and local government - not only to increase the awareness for us to become better stewards over our natural resources - but to also create a spirit of collaboration throughout this great country,” he said.

“At the very least, we should own our God-appointed responsibilities to be good stewards over these vital resources. Our failure to immediately recognize and act accordantly will continued the unnecessarily loss of life, and the massive destruction of both private property and public infrastructure brought on by the effects of global warming, climate change and the rise in sea level, all of which should give each of us cause for concern,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the city “has stepped to the plate and is doing its part to protect, preserve and to take anyone to task who threatens our fragile ecosystem.  Through a special attorney and over the weekend, your city government filed a lawsuit in the Northern District Court of Florida against BP and Halliburton for their role in the horrendous crime perpetrated against nature and against mankind through the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“As a nation and community of concerned citizens, we must be resolute in our efforts to guarantee that we leave to the next generation the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate a healthy and productive Mother Earth,” he said.

The event closed with a reception featuring a variety of healthful foods, including many whose ingredients were grown in the garden.