Columbia Green was founded in 1984 in an effort to improve Greater Columbia's neighborhoods through beautiful gardens that would inspire residents and businesses to take more pride in their city. Patterned after a Philadelphia organization that uses greening to further neighborhood revitalization, Columbia Green began providing plants, equipment, knowledge and labor to area groups while teaching them how to maintain their gardens. The Columbia Green motto became "Strong neighborhoods through gardening"
In the 1990's, Columbia Green branched out to tackle larger and more visible projects. At this time, the organization began working closely with the city to target major arteries and gateways in an effort to improve the quality of life for Columbia residents and spur economic growth. In the following decade, The Gateway Beautification Project resulted in the landscaping of more than 17 street medians with Bald Cypresses, Natchez Crepe Myrtles, day lilies and other perennials. One of those ventures, The Elmwood Avenue Project, was recognized by the Greater Columbia Landscape Association as the best commercial landscape project. Other notable projects include Bull Street at I-277, the quadrant at the Columbia Museum of Art and the Robert Mills House.
Columbia Green further provides funding for season annuals to keep the medians and public areas colorful throughout the year. In a complimentary partnership with the city's Forestry and Beautification department, Columbia Green provides the funding for these projects while the city provides maintenance of them.
Columbia Green has been an advocate for the city horticulture program and for the establishment of the Columbia Tree and Appearance Commission. Together, these organizations work to ensure the city's natural resources and visual beauty are protected, enhanced and promoted. In 2001, these two organizations founded the Columbia Choice Awards to recognize individuals, neighborhoods, and schools that go above and beyond in establishing or maintaining city gardens. Additionally, Columbia Green annually awards up to $3,000 in matching grants to local not for profit organizations for beautification projects and awards up to $3,000 for a Tree Initiative Grant. It further supports Arbor Day projects at city schools and parks.
While the partnership with the city is still going strong, Columbia Green is again at the crossroads, looking to create new partnerships with other like-minded horticulture and preservation groups. It is continuing to grow and take on new ventures while maintaining its previous endeavors. The coming years will help define Columbia Green's path as it seeks to make Columbia more attractive to both citizens and spur economic development in the business community.