Proposed by Santa Fe Garden Club, Zone XII n Seconded by The Portland Garden Club, Zone XII

The Santa Fe Garden Club proposes the creation of the ethnobotanical Moon Terrace Learning Laboratory at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. The laboratory will be a working “canvas” and part of a larger master plan known as “Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands.” Designed to emphasize educational hands-on experiential learning, students of all ages will see, touch, and learn about nature’s bounty and the interdependence of plants and people.

Educational goals of this project align with the GCA’s purpose to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening through educational programs and action in horticulture, conservation, and civic improvement. Visitors will experience the genius of indigenous agriculture: “The Three Sisters.” Together these plants— beans, corn and squash—offer complete nutrition. They feed the people, the land, the spirit, and they teach lessons of reciprocity. The garden utilizes indigenous water catchment practices known as “Zuni bowls” and Italian gabions, ancient water control systems that effectively manage limited water resources. Workshops with trained docents will guide schoolchildren and adults in hands-on projects, planting, nurturing, and harvesting plants for food, medicinal use, and dyes while addressing topics in science, cooking, natural fibers, geology, and art in open classrooms within the gardens.

As a bilingual ethnobotanical hands-on learning environment, local, national, and international visitors will experience the importance and beauty of the plants and culture of our region. Children will climb on stone boulders that showcase minerals found in New Mexico when exploring the outdoor amphitheater and classrooms. On-site immersive experiences will include grinding corn, making and baking bread in Native American ovens called hornos, and weaving utilitarian baskets from plant fibers grown and harvested on site.

Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in North America, settled by European colonists in 1607 but inhabited from 1050 by indigenous people. Tri-cultural inhabitants (Anglos, Hispanics, and Native Americans) have lived and thrived for 400 years at its 7,100 foot elevation by employing the effective water and crop management techniques visitors will experience.

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden celebrates, cultivates, and conserves the rich botanical heritage and biodiversity of our region. Phase One of the Botanical Garden, established in 2012, focuses on the Southwest with its native, xeric,  and adapted plants and incorporates the “borrowed landscape” of vast blue skies and snow-covered mountain ranges. The Founders Fund Award would be used to support the Moon Terrace Learning Laboratory within the greater “Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands” Phase Two project. Basic design work is completed and construction is underway.

The Santa Fe GC, an early supporter, boasts 100% membership at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, donates generously with club and personal gifts, and underwrote the Comprehensive Botanical Collections Management System. Funding for Phase Two is a combination of grants and individual donations. Staff and volunteers will maintain the garden. The Founders Fund Award will assure the completion of the ethnobotanical MoonTerrace Learning Laboratory and help realize an education jewel— permitting people to see, touch, and experience our deep connection to the plants that nourish us, nutritionally and spiritually, in a high desert environment.


Proposed by The Augusta Garden Club, Zone VII n Seconded by Albermarle Garden Club, Zone VII

Staunton, Virginia is a destination city brimming with history, arts, restaurants, educational institutions, and parks. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named it a “Great American Main Street” and it is “Tree City USA” to the Arbor Day Foundation. With Project Dogwood: Staunton’s Tradition Reborn, The Augusta Garden Club will enhance our dynamic city by promoting the restoration of Virginia’s disappearing state tree, while working with the city to provide new connections to nature. We will create a template for the restoration of dogwoods by planting hybrid cultivars in our parks and schools. This project will beautify the city, promote continued upkeep of parks, educate about trees, and restore the dogwood’s valuable role in the ecosystem.

The historical precedent for our project dates to 1935 when city manager James Ruff dreamed of making Staunton the dogwood capital of Virginia by planting numerous trees throughout the city. It was an appropriate goal, as the dogwood is Virginia’s state ower and tree. While the Depression and WWII ended his effort, it was resumed after the war when The Augusta GC planted hundreds of trees on public properties. Anthracnose killed this endeavor.

In 2012 The Augusta GC rallied to revive dogwoods. In collaboration with Staunton’s horticulturist, we committed $7,500 and added 67 trees to Gypsy Hill Park, a 214-acre recreational area enjoyed and loved by our community. We installed a “teaching arboretum” of seven hybrid cultivars to determine varieties that thrive. The city monitors the trees and is committed to their long- range maintenance and our continued partnership. Enthusiastic support for the project is noted in the community’s response.

David Nowak, a lead researcher at the US Forest Service, states that “trees offer cities some of the best bang for their buck. Trees remove carbon dioxide, filter air pollution, and produce oxygen. They absorb rainwater, UV radiation, and noise. They slow down traffic, improve property values, and reduce human stress and mental fatigue.”

Our appeal is three pronged:

 Planting at Parks and Schools

  • Montgomery Hall Park—one of Virginia’s first African American parks now being restored after long-deferred maintenance; home to Staunton- Augusta African American Heritage Center
  • Woodrow Park—a neglected natural green space overlooking the city surrounded by working-class homes
  • Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB) sensory garden
  • Three elementary schools
  • City pocket park


  • Permanent illustrated signs with teaching arboretums at two parks
  • Braille signs at VSDB
  • Curricular teaching module aligned with state standards
  • Shared knowledge with other localities

Quality of Life

  • Beautifying underserved neighborhoods, thus improving inclusivity
  • Providing food for wildlife and calcium for birds’ eggshells
  • Expanding nature experiences for VSDB students

Building on a rich history beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s decision to
plant dogwoods at Monticello, Project Dogwood will continue into the future supported by an Augusta GC/City of Staunton collaboration, with our intention to seek further grants. A Founder’s Fund Award would allow us to assure the restoration of Virginia’s disappearing state tree and serve as a model for other cities. The GCA has empowered us to have community dreams since 1927. Please propel us forward again!


Proposed by Kettle Moraine Garden Club, Zone XI n Seconded by Lake Geneva Garden Club, Zone XI

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee’s Camp Whitcomb Mason transforms lives and teaches relationship building. Kids from violent inner-city neighborhoods, staying for the week along with day campers from countryside neighborhoods, experience transformative moments every day. Nature and nurture work in perfect synergy at the camp. TheBee Healthy Garden will be another important component in building positive relationships while increasing self- esteem.

As Milwaukee’s oldest and largest youth-serving organization, Boys & Girls Clubs has 43,000 members. It provides young people with programs and services to help with basic needs, building strong foundations for future success. Every year, 15,000 kids and adults participate

in year-round camp activities. The same standards are reinforced at summer camp, where 1,000 overnight campers and 600 day campers learn self-control to allow healthy interactions. Outcome driven data shows us that 65 percent of kids respond that their experiences at camp may have saved their lives.

The objective of our proposal is to expand the camp’s Bee Healthy Garden to provide additional educational and social emotional learning (SEL) opportunities. The camp is a transformative place, which makes it the perfect location for SEL, a new curriculum designed to care for the whole child. It challenges the individual to seek inside themselves
and to be empathetic to others. This curriculum is based on understanding and managing one’s own emotions, as well as understanding others and making responsible decisions. The garden at the camp would be the first of its kind and could be replicated by other youth development programs. What separates an SEL garden from any other garden is the preventive intent! We teach our youth coping mechanisms and skills to preempt the need for healing gardens. Camp staff will impart SEL practices to teach kids how to cope in difficult situations, while providing all campers with the means to manage their emotions. They also learn the art and science of gardening as a lifelong hobby and receive a take-home journal to reinforce these newly-learned techniques.

The Bee Healthy Garden sprung to life in the spring of 2016 with two bee hives and a Pizza Garden. Expansion efforts will occur in phases over the next two years. Final plans include several more gardens: a shoreline garden, gazebo, living sundial, yurt, and hammock village. The total project will cost $85,600. Financial support has already been secured from individuals, corporations, and foundations; however, we are only halfway to completion.

The Founders Fund Award from The Garden Club of America would allow us to complete the yurt—thus offering counselors year-round SEL teaching opportunities in the garden for all children regardless of weather. The yurt will provide a safe and quiet place for counselors and kids to reflect and discuss SEL techniques and a location for special overnight adventures in the garden. Organizational leadership and camp program staff are fully committed to the SEL program and sustainability of the garden and have incorporated maintenance into the annual operating budget.

Will the garden change lives?  Absolutely!