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Sierra Nevada impresses bloom judges

America in Bloom judges Karin Rindal and Pam Turrell survey the community garden at Jackson Park. America in Bloom judges Karin Rindal and Pam Turrell survey the community garden at Jackson Park.

Karin Rindal has seen plenty of green-oriented businesses in her role as a judge for the America in Bloom program, which measures among other things a community’s efforts to sustain the planet. She’s never seen a business as environmentally conscious as the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., one of nearly a dozen stops the judges and the local America in Bloom team will make this week.

“We went to the Sierra Nevada business, which is doing probably, of the different places that I’ve been, the most in terms of sustainable activities in my experience,” Rindal said. “I’ve been a judge for three years. The only thing that is comparable is a software company up in Pennsylvania that has been doing a lot of things for a much longer time, but they’re not doing as much as Sierra Nevada has done.”
She praised Sierra Nevada’s array of sustainable practices. “Like 2 million pounds of brew waste a month, which is phenomenal, that they don’t dispose of, that they distribute to farms and other places like that,” she said. “So that was really interesting and amazing to see what they’re doing.”
Now in its third year of the America in Bloom program, Henderson County and its towns hosted Rindal and another judge, Pam Turrell, on Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday the group visited Mills River Town Hall, Sierra Nevada, the Tri-Hishtil plant-grafting operation, Burntshirt Vineyards, Bullington Gardens, Jump Off Rock and the Jackson Park Community Garden. On Tuesday they’ll visit the Village of Flat Rock and downtown Hendersonville.
Rindal also liked Bullington Gardens.
“Bullington Gardens was pretty amazing to see all of the different activities there that were designed for different students with different needs and even grownups,” she said.
As part of the program, Henderson County is placed in a group of four communities of similar size to compete against and compare to. This year the other three communities in the group are Saratoga, Calif., which won in its population category last year, Midland, Mich., which has never competed before, and St. Charles, Ill.
“That’s really what I like to see happening is people kind of benchmarking against each other,” Rindal said. “So then if it’s worked in one community of the same size then the chances are that the idea might also work in another community of a similar size. So that’s why we pair communities up in groups of four.”
The culminates in a fall convention where communities will be presented with awards, evaluations and a numerical score. The communities also receive a detailed discussion of recommendations and things to improve upon. This year the meeting will take place in Arroyo Grande, Calif.
“We work really hard to be able to find something that the community can latch onto,” Rindal said. “It’s up to the community to figure out what things we have recommended that work for them. We’re hoping that within the recommendations there’s something that’s useful.”

Rindal added that judges’ tend to spark towns to put forth their best image.
“If you have company coming you make the effort to clean things up,” she said.