30 August – The AWAKE Project wants to help the city acquire additional land next to Agnes Patterson Memorial Park in order to expand the Newton Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, which board members say could create an attractive and unique destination for the city’s residents. The city and the site are elevated to new heights.

To better convince the city of their proposal, the Project AWAKE Board of Directors put out a presentation on August 21 detailing the amenities they would like to add to the arboretum and how they intend to pay for them through sponsorships, fundraising opportunities, and potential endowments.

The proposal includes a public-use conservatory/greenhouse/pavilion with a green roof, more areas for natural prairie grasses, a parking lot with solar-powered awnings and an integrated sculpture that tells the story of the “rewildering” of the grounds, said AWAKE Project Board Chair Lana Fullers. agricultural.

The mission of Newton Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is to grow the community and inspire growing, displaying and educating with an emphasis on sustainable ecological gardening. Fullers said botanical gardens are a rarity for small, rural towns like Newton, noting that they tend to be subsidized by large urban centres.

Acquisition of the 11-acre plot — directly north of the nursery — certainly protects the gardens from pesticide and herbicide washouts, but it also gives the voluntary board and its staff a chance to get creative. Wohlers asked council members several times to envision the scope of the final project.

“Imagine what a completed nursery expansion plan might look, smell and sound like as you walk through the aisles,” Fullers urged board members.

Conceptual plans for the proposal show a walking path that encircles the car park of 150 or more spaces, the main building and Al Barari Park. Aside from a secluded maintenance building on the northeast corner of the property along East 31st Street North, the entire land will be open to the public.

The vision is not only to expand botanical collections, but also to demonstrate environmental stewardship and enhance the visitor experience through increased parking, longer walkways, more accessible seasonal attractions and other facilities, and greater educational opportunities.

Supporting Project AWAKE’s vision requires infrastructure. Fullers pointed out the need for service roads, restrooms, water lines, electricity and internet. The maintenance building also provides the infrastructure and will be closed to store equipment, manure and other materials for employee use.

In order to activate this project, the organization developed an action plan. At the top of the list is land acquired through the city. Although the project will be completed in phases, seeds can be sown in the meadow in the meantime starting in May 2024. For the first two years, Fullers warned, it will look unsightly.

“But then there will be beautiful wild grasses and flowers. Attract those butterflies and hummingbirds,” Fullers said, noting that the organization will have to hire a landscape architect and continue partnering with the city’s Department of Community Services. “…We have an initiative that is growing forward.”

and a plan to make Newton’s services more accessible, desirable, and beneficial to the community.

“Just imagine how much of a draw this could be,” Fullers said.

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