Non-profit Will Oversee Community Garden Program
Metroparks and the non-profit organization that operates Toledo Botanical Garden have agreed to shift daily operations of the Garden to the park district. The non-profit will continue to operate Toledo GROWS, its community garden outreach program.
Metroparks plans to honor the garden’s horticultural mission and continue to host the Crosby Festival of the Arts, while making updates to infrastructure and adding visitor amenities. For example, Metroparks has applied for grant funding to develop a garden-themed playground envisioned as part of the new Discovery Trail that opened this spring.
“This new arrangement will strengthen both the Garden and GROWS,” said Jennifer Scroggs, president of Toledo Botanical Garden Board, Inc., which voted unanimously for the change June 27. “Our garden outreach program is important to neighborhoods in our community, and by focusing our full attention on the program we can make an even bigger impact.”
At its June 28 board meeting, the Metroparks Board of Park Commissioners voted to operate the 66-acre botanical garden in west Toledo as one of the Metroparks while maintaining the formal gardens. Several members of the TBG staff will become employees of Metroparks, while others will be encouraged to apply for employment opportunities at the park district.
“The Garden is a great asset to our community, and TBG, Inc. is a valued partner,” said Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks. “By merging operations of the Garden under the Metroparks umbrella, we can provide resources at a higher level with greater efficiency.”
Metroparks assumed operations of the property from the City of Toledo in 2006 under a 33-year cooperative agreement then entered into an operation agreement with Toledo Botanical Garden Board, Inc. to manage the property. For the last 11 years, TBG has been considered an affiliate of the park district.
Under the new arrangement, Zenk said, the public can expect to see improvements to the property, including building maintenance and restored natural areas. A proposed 12-acre prairie and an Oak Openings Region demonstration garden are two examples of enhancements that are proposed. Other changes will include Metroparks signage, additional trails, a picnic area and other visitor amenities.
“We want to add to the horticultural heritage of the site, increase educational opportunities and raise awareness to increase visitation,” Zenk said. “We will keep what people love about the Garden while adding additional reasons to visit.”
He said the popular Crosby Festival of the Arts and the Jazz in the Garden series will continue, with proceeds from both benefitting Toledo GROWS. Metroparks will also assume lease agreements with 15 resident arts and horticulture organizations located on the property.
A major new event announced for this fall, “A Garden of Wonders: Stone Sculptures of Zimbabwe,” September 2 through October 30, will continue as planned, but will now be open free of charge to the community, Zenk said. The exhibit will feature more than 100 stone sculptures displayed throughout the Garden campus.
Zenk said that assuming operations of the property is not expected to increase costs to the park district, which has provided funding to the Garden for the past 11 years as well as in-kind services such as ranger patrol. With the change, he said, there will be improved efficiency in visitor services, maintenance, marketing and other areas.