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Bonnie Plants Foundation donates $1.2M for Auburn University Children’s Garden

The Bonnie Plants Foundation, a garden and greenspace educational-oriented nonprofit, is gifting Auburn University with a $1.2 million donation for the establishment of a two-acre Children’s Garden and Pollinator Garden for the university’s 16-acre Transformation Garden project.

According to a release, the donation will support the Children’s Garden’s development. The garden will serve as an innovative resource for educational programming and community outreach.

Mike Sutterer, president and CEO of Bonnie Plants, asserted that the donation will enable the garden to serve as a center of intrigue for those interested in the field of horticulture.

“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,” proclaimed Sutterer. “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 foundation advised that the garden will offer hands-on learning experiences and will be open to the public. The university’s horticulture faculty, staff and students, in partnership with Bonnie Plants associates and local master gardeners, will offer educational programs consisting of tours, school field trips, summer children’s programs, and raised bed gardening workshops.

Children will have the opportunity to learn how to grow and care for plants, how to use them for food, and explore other uses. Learning opportunities will also be provided regarding certain insects, plant diseases and the importance of water and nutrition for plant health.

Desmond Layne, head of Auburn’s Department of Horticulture, spoke to the impact the Bonnie Plant Foundation’s donation will have on the land-grant university’s horticulture mission.

“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,” stated Layne. “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.”

AU’s Transformation Garden will be the largest classroom on campus and will be used for teaching and research purposes. Students will be presented with hands-on experiences relating to gardening methods, gain knowledge on the history of agriculture, and test an array of commercially sold plants. Produce from the garden will be harvested for consumption for on-campus dining.

The donation marks the Bonnie Plants Foundation’s first major public gift. The 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 first phase of the project estimated to be finished by the summer of 2023.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL