The largest grant in the botanical garden's history will support Cultivating Joy, a $50 million initiative focused on expanding the organization's research program, accommodating the growing number of annual visitors, and developing year-round programming. The first phase of the initiative, which included improved vehicle access and a new visitor and administrative center, was completed last summer. Additional projects include construction of a glass conservatory, increasing the size of the plant nursery, adding a research center and visitor amenities, and expanding educational programming.
The gift, which will be paid out as physical plant, programmatic, and financial benchmarks are met, includes a challenge component aimed at raising $15 million from other grantmakers, including $10 million by next spring so construction of the conservatory can proceed.
"This gift will be transformative for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens," said Cultivating Joy co-chair Tom Renyi. "Our mission is to inspire meaningful connections among people, plants, and nature through horticulture, education, and research. The Harold Alfond Foundation understands that its support will allow us to implement our strategic plan and to achieve our goals of making beauty and joy accessible to every Maine resident, and of sharing with the rest of the world the wonders of this distinctively Maine place. We are extremely grateful."