New Bonnie Plants Foundation Makes First Major Gift to Create Children’s Garden at Auburn University

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Artisitc rendering of the two-acre сhildren's garden. CONTRIBUTED TO THE OBSERVER

Contributed by Bonnie Plants Foundation

The Bonnie Plants Foundation is demonstrating its commitment to agricultural education through a multi-year donation to establish a new two-acre Children’s Garden and Pollinator Garden within Auburn University’s 16-acre Transformation Garden project.

The $1.2 million gift will support the development of the Children’s Garden which will be an innovative and imaginative resource for educational programing and community outreach.

“The Bonnie Plants Foundation is proud to partner with Auburn University to establish the Children’s Garden and Pollinator Garden which will be a destination for students and the community alike,” said Mike Sutterer, president and CEO of Bonnie Plants. “We’re confident this space will provide invaluable experiences to grow a love of gardening in young people and even inspire the next great generation of horticulture leaders.”

The Children’s and Pollinator Gardens will be open to the public and cultivate a love of gardening in children and families through hands-on learning experiences. Auburn horticulture faculty, staff and students, in partnership with Bonnie Plants associates and local master gardeners, will regularly offer fun and educational programs for the public including tours, school field trips, summer children’s programs and even raised bed gardening workshops.

In these gardens, children will use their senses in the context of the plant world. Through play, children will learn how to grow and care for plants, use them for food and explore other uses. They will also observe both beneficial and harmful insects and learn about plant diseases and the importance of water and nutrition for plant health.

“Like the name of our garden, this generous gift from The Bonnie Plants Foundation will be truly transformational in enabling us to create a community-focused space where we can share our knowledge and love of horticulture and educate the public about our historic land-grant mission,” said Desmond Layne, head of Auburn’s Department of Horticulture. “Auburn and Bonnie Plants are committed to designing outdoor spaces that encourage people of all ages to learn about horticulture and the outdoors. Their support will have an impact on countless children’s lives, inspiring a passion for gardening, and contribute to numerous agricultural innovations, changing the way we grow food.”

When completed, the Transformation Garden will be the largest classroom on campus, where students and faculty can use the land for teaching and research purposes. Students will learn about the history of agriculture, gain hands-on experience with new gardening methods and test a variety of commercially sold plants. Additionally, produce harvested from the garden will go to Auburn’s Campus Dining program to give fresh fruits and vegetables back to the student population.

The Bonnie Plants Foundation’s gift to the Transformation Garden is its first major public gift and marks the beginning of an investment in increasing healthy, affordable and local food access and horticulture education in the community.

The Bonnie Plants Foundation will receive naming rights for both the Children’s Garden and the Pollinator Garden within the Transformation Garden. Work on the garden is scheduled to begin later this year, with the initial phase of the project expected to be complete by Summer 2023. For more infor mation about Auburn’s Transformation Garden and plans for horticulture education development, visit agriculture.auburn.edu/research/hort/transformation-garden/.

ABOUT THE BONNIE PLANTS FOUNDATION

The mission of The Bonnie Plants Foundation is to nurture learning, enhance lives and cultivate experiences within gardens and greenspaces for people of all ages and backgrounds. Established in 2021, the Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports community and social impact, university partnerships and associates in the form of grants, endowments and multi-year capital gifts. In doing so, the foundation is in pursuit of helping communities thrive and grow healthy together through the power of plants.

About Auburn University

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. For more information, visit https://www.auburn.edu/.

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