As reported in a recent article in the Red & Black, on September 1, the University of Georgia State Botanical Garden will break ground on the Alice H. Richard’s Children Garden, two and a half acres which will be renovated by Koons Environmental Design of Athens.
Richards, who the garden is dedicated to, was a big supporter of the garden and served as a charter member of the State Botanical Garden Board of Advisors until 2007 when she passed away.
According to the garden’s website, Richards placed a great value on nature and “desired a place [...] where children could experience the beauty of nature in an area all their own.”
In her honor, Koons will include many hands-on and educational attractions within the garden. Edible landscapes, an underground adventure area, a “Theater-in-the-Woods” and a pond and bog area are among the features expected to be included in the garden.
According to the UGA Botanical Garden's website, “Children will learn as they explore an underground root system, see the forest from a bird’s eye view, recognize a cloud structure, climb up a spider web, discover a new vegetable or investigate the hidden world of worms.”
Funding for the garden comes from UGA’s fundraising and Richard’s family who donated $1 million to the construction project. The board has raised nearly $4.3 million to be put towards the garden and a Georgia Funder crowdfunding page was also launched in March for local citizens to donate to. About $5 million is estimated to be required to complete the garden.
Aside from welcoming nearly 50,000 children per year, other visitors will include teachers-in-training and individuals from UGA conducting research.
"I am delighted with our choice of design firm and construction manager for the project," said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, in a UGA news release. "It is clear to me that the entire team-garden staff, university architects, UGA leadership, and the designer and construction manager-are all thinking about this project in the same way. We are all excited to create something unique and rooted in the creativity and sense of place in Athens."
Encompassing about 313 acres, the UGA State Botanical Garden has been updated frequently since 1968. The garden has been used for many research projects as well as enjoyment for families.
The Alice H. Richards children's garden is expected to be completed and open to the public by early 2019.
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