Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Hope Gardens to get a makeover

Published:Friday | July 21, 2023 | 12:07 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

Hope Gardens in St Andrew is slated for a make-over.

As part of the 150th anniversary of the Gardens, a Friends of Hope Gardens group in the diaspora, led by Jamaican businessman and community leader, Blane Studdart, has set a goal of raising J$150 million to do phase one of the make-over which will be aimed at supporting the development of the Gardens.

The group is seeking to raise the amount from September this year until December next year. Studdart said funds will be raised in the diaspora, as well as in Jamaica to carry out the project. According to Studdart, some J$2 million has already been raised.

He also pointed out that a part of the fundraising effort will be what he calls the “lunch money” donations which will target 100,000 Jamaicans donating $1,000 each.

Phase one of the project will include the following:

• Repair of all entrance roads, inclusive of the historical entrance, the main gate and the back entrance;

• Landscape redesign for the main entrances;

• Fixing the fountains;

• Fixing or installing pumping system so that the property can be less reliant on potable water;

• Tap into the Hope River.

The Friends Group’s role will be to support the board of management of the Nature Preservation Foundation to determine the ultimate usage of the funds. However, usage of the funds must be visible, in that the public must see active use of funds; accountable, funds must go for intended purpose; transparent, must report back to public; NPF will have design/facilities sub-committee to manage contractors.

Important resource

As the largest remaining public green space in the Corporate Area, the Hope Royal Botanic Gardens is an important place where Jamaicans can relax, unwind, share space with their loved ones and connect with nature, said Studdart.

“Hope Gardens plant nursery is an important resource, as it holds over 1,000 species of plants and provides plant stock for professionals and home gardeners alike. The property is historic, with the history of the Hope Estate stretching further than the 150 years that the garden has been in existence. Hope Gardens preserves our natural heritage. The degradation of our environment is more immediate in smaller countries,” he said.

Hope Botanic Gardens made a request for a diaspora leader to assist with fundraising and to launch a capital campaign over a year ago through Chris Chaplin, honorary Jamaican consul for Philadelphia.

Chaplin nominated Studdart, who met with the leadership at Hope Gardens over the past year, and, on May 25, the Board of Nature Preservation Foundation gave preliminary approval for him to lead a campaign to raise $150 million for the 150th anniversary of Hope Gardens. This will be done in concert with the board of Hope Gardens, corporate and foundation leadership in Jamaica, the Jamaican diaspora, American Friends of Jamaica, Young Caribbean Professional Network, foreign embassies in Kingston, and international sustainable agencies and organisations in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

For more information interested parties can email blane@bfwgroup.net or executiveoffice.hopegardens@gmail.com.