Read more below about the importance of Awbury’s environmental stewardship in these times, as well as stories from community members who have been part of the life of the Arboretum this past year.
A letter from our General Manager:
The “Year of the Pollinator” is coming to a close at Awbury, and I am happy to share that it has been a very fruitful 12 months. Alongside regular classes and events, we engaged thousands of people through pollinator-related art exhibitions, tours, workshops, and dinners and piloted several new initiatives. Awbury Live – a free outdoor concert in partnership with ALL Entertainment – brought hundreds to the Arboretum on a beautiful July evening and set the stage for a series of concerts planned for 2019. Summer camps served more families than ever, and we partnered with Germantown’s Colored Girls Museum to offer Welcome to Wakanda, a new camp based on the groundbreaking Black Panther movie. Regular enabled hundreds of families to enjoy AdventureWoods – our new natural materials playground – free of charge, and just a few weeks ago, over 1,000 people attended our annual Harvest Festival – a new record.
In early spring, we installed hundreds of native plants in new beds bordering the Cope House and tent patio. The plantings compliment the historic building with year-round color, texture, and interest and provide food and shelter for native insects and birds. Across Washington Lane, an expansion of our Community Garden made it possible for more people to enjoy the benefits of gardening with neighbors. The restoration plan for our pond and wetland area has been completed, and the State has approved a $75,000 construction grant – only a small portion of what is needed, but it is a start. As we look toward 2019, there is no slowing down in sight, but we can’t do it without you.
As I write this letter appealing for your financial support, I write with a sense of urgency. Given the recent disregard for science-based environmental stewardship at the highest levels in our country, I believe our landscape and programs are more important than ever. Every child who visits Awbury and encounters a bird’s nest, a beautiful butterfly, a live frog, or one of our pesky groundhogs is forming crucial connections that will cultivate a lifelong appreciation for nature. Places like Awbury are essential to establishing and nurturing a connection to the natural world and developing citizens prepared to work toward lessening our impact on the planet.
Christopher R. van de Velde
As we wrap up 2018, listening to some of those who have been part of the Arboretum’s activities this past year may help you appreciate how we are working to fulfill the vision of our founders – that Awbury would remain a place where people connect with the natural world and are enriched by that connection.
“This is really a love thing – you fall in love with it after a while. All of the community gardeners – they feel like the garden is part of them. I think that the soil, the garden, the planting – it really does something to you. When you get into the garden, it’s like you’re in another world. No politics, no nothing – all we talk about is food and growing food. We need more of that type of connection in everything we do. The older gardeners really help out the younger folks. Everyone is a team – like a family. Everyone has a part in what we do.” – Eldridge Ragsdale, President, Awbury Community Garden Club, Board Member, Awbury Arboretum Association
“The children truly relish the opportunities of Awbury and all that it affords. They delight as they dig for insects, examine the different ecosystems, or stop to enjoy an open vista of fall foliage. Awbury Arboretum has truly been a blessing to the children at Emlen School. Both the in-class lessons and the field trips have strengthened the children’s connection to the natural world and fostered a greater appreciation of the environment.” – Grant Shulman, 2nd Grade Teacher, Emlen Elementary School
“I love all the staff, and the programming is fantastic. Our kids attend camp, we’ve gone to movies, a couple of dinners… Joshua loves the goats. He thinks about them and talks about them and looks after them and loves them – it’s delightful. We’re really grateful that we have an opportunity to be a part of their lives. It’s good for him. It’s good all around. We really appreciate everything. As a parent of children who attend Wissahickon Charter School, I love the relationship Awbury has cultivated with the school. In general, we’re incredibly fortunate to live in this community and all that it brings – we support it in the ways that we can and hope other people will too.” – Gili Ronen, Neighbor
“There is an ‘old’ contemporary gospel song I love so very much that said…’starting over again is not just for the young!…’(Larnell Harris) What a song of truth for me!! To have a passion for gardening is something quite special for me but to tap into the beauty of Nature’s Simplicity, with its unique depth, which one can only know about through experiencing it…God continues to bless me with this experience via my connection with you!” – Angela Childs, Volunteer
“A lot of the things that I’ve learned [at camp] help me build on myself and make new friends.” – Ione, Camper
“This summer, we went to Moab, Utah. One day we were with my mom and aunt, driving up onto a large mesa, when our Jeep got stuck. We were getting really hot, and knew it would be a while before help could come. I thought back to camp at Awbury where we learned to make shelters. We had bandanas and a sheet in the back of the Jeep and there were a few shrubs around us. We tied the bandanas to the sheet, and tied those to the shrubs to make a lean-to tent. We put our water under so it would stay cooler for longer. Our aunt was really impressed and asked ’Where did you guys learn this?’ We said ‘Camp at Awbury! We’ve gone for two years.’ She asked if we liked it and we said ‘Totally. The counselors were super nice and the activities were really really fun.’ Then our uncle and his friend came to rescue us and we got home safely.”– Joe and Emmet, Campers
“[What I like about Awbury is that] you can explore lots of plants that you might not be able to see at your own house.” – James, 2nd Grader, Lotus Academy
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