Friday, August 14, 2009

ACGA conference: The Franklin Park Conservatory

The 30th Annual American Community Gardening Association Conference "Putting Down Roots" was hosted in Columbus, OH by the Franklin Park Conservatory and Chihuly Collection.

Three days of workshops and talks, tours, networking, and lots and lots of local food. There was a large emphasis on bicycle commuting from your hotel to the conservatory and there was a bicycle tour of the city's gardens, but unfortunately I didn't get myself together enough to bring my bike to the conference. Next time, definitely.

The Franklin Park Conservatory is the new home of the ACGA offices and a 4 acre demonstration and functional community garden! They will cut the ribbon on 9/9/09, but we got to see a preview of the facilities.

Franklin Park is the first public garden to provide rent-able plots to community members. The demo garden also includes a berry garden, vineyard, herb garden, apiary, rose garden, international cuisine garden (with rotating displays featuring food crops from some of Columbus' largest cultural groups including Somali and Japanese), compost area, rain garden, health and wellness garden, trial gardens, wheelchair accessible gardens, and fragrance garden.

They also built a state-of-the-art education building with a huge kitchen inside and a "live fire cooking theater" outside where they plan to do cooking classes on grilling and smoking foods.

Oh, and this happened while we were touring the new facility:

Her name is Brittany.

The conservatory itself is also impressive. It has a huge palm house that is the second oldest in the country, and a Desert Biome room, a Himalayan Mountain Biome room, and a Tropical Rainforest Biome room. There is also a courtyard filled with bonsai, a butterfly garden, and an orchid area. Interspersed amongst the plants are huge Dale Chihuly sculptures, a topic for another post.

With such a gorgeous setting, how could the conference be anything but amazing?

Next up: The workshops and tours of the ACGA conference.

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