In July of last summer, Meg McAuley Kaicher began a two-year term as Board President at the Greenwich Botanical Center (formerly the Garden Education Center of Greenwich). Kaicher is a Greenwich resident, working mom and dedicated member of the Junior League of Greenwich. At the beginning of her term, Kaicher took on the challenging task of leading the member based nonprofit volunteer organization through a transition involving all new branding, website, and both internal and external communications plans, within an extensive strategic plan to diversify the organization’s revenue streams to ensure its longevity.
"I speak on behalf of the GBC Board and staff when I say we are extremely proud to celebrate our 60th year in this community. Although we've been here for six decades, many families in the community are unfamiliar with our offerings and mission. Our goal moving forward is to remedy this disconnect with modernized programming and relevant messaging that better serve all generations of nature lovers in the Greenwich area and beyond.”
The GBC is located within the Montgomery Pinetum Park, a public park owned by the Town of Greenwich comprised of properties generously donated by the Tuchman, Pomerance, Seton, and Montgomery families. As a separate entity from the Town, the GBC relies on funds generated from events, membership dues, tax-deductible donations, sponsorships, and venue rentals to provide the public with a broad slate of environmental education resources. Memberships levels include Student $35.00; Senior $50.00; Individual $65.00; Family $125.00; Organization $250.00; Germinator $250.00; Cultivator $500.00; and Grower $1,000.00. Membership supports the Center's efforts to provide exceptional public offerings through which everyone can enjoy nature. All members receive discounts on plants and merchandise in the Greenhouse as well as special member pricing for programs and events.
The new GBC website launched in December with a user-friendly calendar featuring a wide variety of activities and events for people of all ages. March 4th is their day trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show. Upcoming events include Frolic in the Forest on April 28, May Gardeners Market on May 4th, and Grandiflora Garden Tour on Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8. Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities are available for these annual events.
In addition, the GBC's calendar is updated on a daily basis with entertaining workshops, classes, lectures, and field trips. "We target the multi-generational family with our offerings,” said Kaicher. She continued, "New moms and dads visit with small children while meeting neighbors; long-standing members bring their grandchildren. Students and scouts use our Teaching Vegetable Garden on field trips. The GBC community is a great place to network and meet new people while learning world-class environmental best practices. We also provide volunteer opportunities for adults and teenagers." Volunteer opportunities include off-site Youth and Senior Outreach programs, along with hands-on experience in the Greenhouse with Director of Horticulture, Lisa Beebe.
The Greenwich Botanical Center was founded by Jane Duff in 1958 as the Greenwich Garden Center. Duff and her husband were from Pittsburgh and moved to Greenwich in 1928 with their small children. Once the children got older Duff became President of the Riverside Garden Club and launched the Greenwich Garden Center with help from the Town of Greenwich, the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce and Civic Leaders. The idea for the Center was inspired by the need to provide educational resources at a low cost to the community. The concept of a public horticultural education center was very well received. As Duff moved forward with the launch of the GGC she reached out to similar organizations in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati for help with constructing the bylaws and programs. Within a few weeks, she received phone calls from notable horticulturists in the local community that offered their support and the organization was launched.