The Garden Club of Norfolk awarded Laurie Fox the Community Enhancement Award for her contributions to The Olmsted Initiative. 

In 2020, the Garden Club of America challenged its branches to honor Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture, in celebration of his 200th birthday. 

The Garden Club of Norfolk (GCN) accepted this challenge and partnered Research Associate at the Hampton Roads AREC, Laurie Fox, to undertake a project they named The Olmsted Initiative. The initiative aims to enhance Norfolk’s green spaces, which account for just 3 percent of the city, including its beaches.

The GCN transformed a ditch along the Elizabeth River Trail into a garden designed to absorb rain runoff into the soil. Additionally, they wanted the garden to serve as an educational showcase of Norfolk's native plant species and their benefits to the ecosystem. 

“Laurie has spent countless hours reviewing the various phases of the project and offering her thoughts and suggestions,” Liz Paste, a member of GCN's awards committee, said. “With Laurie’s guidance we have a powerhouse of native trees and plants in the Olmsted Tribute Garden that sustains our native pollinators and birds, captures carbon and reduces flooding in our city.”

​​With a Ph.D. in Horticulture-Phytoremediation, Fox was crucial to the success of the garden. From soil sampling to plant placement, ensuring the garden supported native wildlife, and utilizing species that make a strong visual statement. 

Fox was awarded a clay serving bowl to symbolize her drive to create beauty through the natural world. 

The Olmsted Initiative is currently in phase two of three. The GCN is fundraising for educational signage that will assist visitors in using these species in their own gardens. You can donate to support this final phase here.