Flower Basket Program kicks off 29th year

Published 6:50 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

On a chilly Tuesday morning, organizers of Austin’s Flower Basket Program gathered downtown to kick-off its annual fundraising campaign.

In its 29th year, the Flower Basket Program places hanging baskets throughout downtown Austin as well as in front of The Hormel Institute and Hormel Corporate North. In recent years the program has also evolved to include the planters located on Main Street, which are adjusted for fall and winter.

“It’s a nice Christmas gift if you want to donate in someone’s name,” said Bonnie Rietz from inside the Town Center Tuesday. “People can give money and you can see it the next summer. People do like to donate to this and that’s wonderful.”

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Organizers are looking to raise $55,000 for the program, with $23,000 of that earmarked from the City of Austin and another $12,500 set aside by Hormel.

Citizen and business donations will account for the remaining $19,500.

“It’s pretty impactful and we have such gratitude for folks giving … There are a lot of givers in Austin,” Mayor Steve King said.

Similar to last year, when the program expanded the number of planters, 270 baskets will be arranged by Gretchen Boldt of Hilltop Greenhouse and Farm, located near Ellendale.

While the number of baskets will remain the same this year, Boldt said that this year’s baskets will look a little different, though she also said they could go back to the familiar set up as years previous if it doesn’t work out.

Still, the opportunity to try something different is inviting to organizers.

“It’s always fun to try something different,” Boldt said.

Even though the hanging planters and street-level planters are run under the same program, arrangements for the ground-level planters in terms of fall and winter fall to Impact Austin.

According to Impact Austin Coordinator Lindsey Hernandez, it highlights how various entities coming together for a single cause.

“It’s such a great partnership,” she said. “It’s just another example of how the community gets behind this.”

Money can be donated in a number of different ways this year, including dropping their donations at City Hall C/O Tom Dankert, 500 Fourth Ave, NE. On the message line people should write “Flowers – 2024.”

People can also donate over the phone by calling 437-9940. They just need to designate that they are donating to the Flower Basket Program.