Pinecrest Gardens launches campaign to raise over a million for major upgrade

Pinecrest this month launched the Growing Inspiration Capital Campaign to raise donations to renovate Pinecrest Gardens and create an inclusive learning center. It will continue through 2022.

Originally the location of Parrot Jungle and Gardens, the property was acquired and renamed Pinecrest Gardens in 2002. Now it’s a botanical garden and a center for art events and environmental education programs.

Through its early years, the main renovations made to Pinecrest Gardens were focused on the maintenance of buildings and landscape. In 2017, the Village Council created the Upper Garden Five-Year Plan, which focused on making the gardens accessible to all visitors.

The renovation plans include building an education hub to be called the Inspiration Center. It will be accessible to visitors of all abilities. Plans also include improvements to the facility’s sensory garden, restrooms and creation of a new petting zoo. 

Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano said the village issued a bond to cover most of the cost of the Upper Gardens project and hopes the Growing Inspiration Campaign will encourage residents to donate for the cause.

“The Upper Gardens Project will cost $5.5 million, $4 million of which the village has covered with a bond,” Galiano said. “Our goal is to try to raise $1.5 million through the Growing Inspiration Campaign so we can finally renovate Pinecrest Gardens into our dream garden.”

The Growing Inspiration Campaign will run mainly through social media and virtual events throughout the rest of the year and through 2022. Construction of the new facilities is scheduled to start this summer.

The Village Council and Pinecrest Gardens Advisory board plans for all renovations to the Upper Garden will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, catering especially to visitors on the autism spectrum.

Councilwoman Anna Hochkammer said that it is important the renovations are not only inclusive but also visually appealing — to go along with Pinecrest Gardens’ affinity for the arts.

“Because [Pinecrest Gardens] is a place that associates itself with the arts, anything we do to elevate it must uphold that commitment,” Hochkammer said. “Even though it is more expensive, we want visitors to want to interact with our exhibits.”

Pinecrest Gardens Director Alana Perez said that the completion of the Upper Gardens Project would make Pinecrest Gardens a safe place for visitors of all abilities to enjoy.

“The all-inclusive playground, petting zoo, learning garden, ADA pathways and Inspiration Center will complete the Village’s vision of providing a place for people of all abilities to enjoy history, nature and culture,” said Perez. “We are doing our part to continue to enhance this treasure for the entire metropolitan area.”

Giuliana La Mendola is currently a junior at FIU majoring in Journalism and minoring in Nutrition. She hopes to combine her passions for writing and fitness to become a free-lance journalist in the health industry.