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Cleveland Botanical Garden shines like a diamond in the rough

This past weekend I had the honor and the pleasure to be the keynote speaker at the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s (CBG) Sustainability Symposium 2009: In Your Own Backyard sponsored by the garden, the Nature Center At Shaker Lakes, and the GreenCityBlueLake Institute of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This is an impressive group of people working hard to make a difference in their community (and beyond) to educate and inspire about the importance of stewarding the land wisely through beautiful and beneficial landscapes. The message was that we can all make a positive impact on our environment by working together and starting in our own backyards. The speaker line-up was impressive including Mary Topa from The Holden Arboretum speaking on understanding soils and Michael Loos from The Ohio State University Extension speaking on Edible Landscapes as well as several others with practical, important sustainability messages. The day was sold out with a 50 person waiting list. Thanks to those who attended and I urge you all to consider attending next year’s event.. but register early.

CBG is an amazing 10 acre urban oasis in Cleveland, Ohio that draws 250,000 visitors a year. The Glasshouse shines like a jewel among the concrete jungle of University Circle attracting with its mystical presence. As my husband Jim and I strolled through this grand space I was moved by the varied effects the flora and fauna had on the diverse group of visitors that were there. A couple was kissing quietly in the corner under a canopy of leaves, while a toddler screamed with joy at the birds flying about, two teenagers in baggy pants and sunglasses laughed while photographing the entertaining tortoise with their phones, while still a serious plantsman just around the corner was impressed with the stunning plant collection. Gardens, plants, and nature truly cast a spell on all of us and we need to take time from our busy tech-filled lives to refresh the spirit with their powers.

I was also “over- the- top impressed” with The Cleveland Botanical Garden’s cool urban youth program call Green Corps. It’s a work/study program for students aged 15-18 who earn as they learn by transforming vacant lots into flourishing urban farms. The students grow fruits, vegetables and flowers while also learning job and leadership skills, while being proactive in creating a healthier greener community for themselves and their neighbors. Students learn about sustainable urban farming, ecology, and healthy eating and growing as well as basics of entrepreneurship and sales. They sell their produce at farmer’s markets and bottle their own Ripe From Downtown® salsa. Let me tell you first hand it’s delicious!! Check out the Cleveland Botanical Garden at and be sure to add it to your list of places to visit. This summer they will be hosting The American Horticultural Society’s 17th Annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium July 23-25, 2009 visit to learn more about this important event.

Update: The Cleveland Botanical Garden comments on Tracy’s appearance on their blog.    

Beth Daye also shares her thoughts about the event at CBG (as well as some photos) on her blog.  Read it here.

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