More than 70 volunteers showed up early on a Sunday morning for a downtown cleanup and beautification project organized by the City District Main Street District.
Around 300 plants were planted along Gertrude’s Walk as part of the beautification project. Unique pollinator plants such as milkweed, coontie, wild coffee and fire bush were planted along the historic avenue.
According to an article by the U.S. Forest Service, these plants attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators, which are essential for ecological survival.
Many of the plants installed along Gertrude’s Walk are native species, according to the city of Orlando’s sustainability educator and beekeeper, Tuesday Piper.
“It is important to plant native and pollinator-friendly plants because it allows the native insects to have access to food and shelter,” Piper wrote in a text message. “Having native flowers in an urban environment can be an oasis for pollinators facing a species decline.”
Held on Oct. 9, the cleanup happened ten days after Hurricane Ian caused widespread power outages, flooding and damage to trees across Central Florida. Despina McLaughlin, board president of the City District, said the arrival of the hurricane made the cleanup even more needed. More than 50 bags of garbage and debris were collected during the cleanup.
“Gertrude’s Walk is like our baby. It was the main street before there was an Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando,” McLaughlin said. “The walkway oftentimes gets littered with garbage, so it’s always a priority to make sure that this beautiful thoroughfare gets cleaned up.”
The city of Orlando donated the plants, and Orlando City Soccer Club donated 30 tickets for this season’s final regular season game, which were raffled off to volunteers following the cleanup.
Editor’s note: Tommy Cardinal, the writer of this article, is a volunteer board member for the City District Main Street District.