There’s a new atmosphere of enchantment and wonder at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, where children get to explore and appreciate all five senses, thanks to a generous grant from Colcom Foundation and other individuals donors.
The Garden of the Five Senses has been in the works since before the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden’s opening in 2015. The main objective is to provide visitors with an opportunity to connect with nature through their senses. The garden offers a range of interactive activities, such as digging in a sandbox to discover hidden treasures, using magnifying glasses to examine tiny living things in a decomposing tree log, and finding hidden gems like a fox’s den in the forest.
The unique delights of the garden foster creativity and awe, with boulders that spout cooling mist, a Pizza Garden that grows everything necessary to make pizza, and an Eye Spy section that features a giant kaleidoscope. In the Sniff and Savor Garden, located in the Weisbrod Learning Pavilion, visitors can smell fresh basil and see the growth of vegetables.
Nestled within the sprawling 460-acre Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, with a total price tag of $1.7 million, the Garden of the Five Senses could not have been completed if it were not for the generous funding of individuals and foundations like Colcom Foundation that believe in the conservation of our natural resources and the importance of allowing children to learn to appreciate and enjoy nature.
The 460 acres on which the garden is located were previously heavily damaged by surface and strip mining but are now carefully reforested and restored. The garden is a symbol of hope and renewal, showcasing the possibilities of reforestation efforts. Currently, 60 acres of the garden are open to the public. Visitors can explore popular attractions such as the peaceful Lotus Pond, the Japanese Garden, and the Celebration Garden, which is a popular spot for weddings.
The garden is intentionally designed with children on the autism spectrum in mind, with various zones that cater to the preferences of those on the spectrum. For instance, if a child is hypersensitive to sound, they can avoid areas with excessive noise and enjoy nature comfortably in zones that work best for them.
According to Beth Exton, the development director for the garden, the team has utilized the natural landscape of the region to create a truly unique and inspiring space.
Beyond its stunning aesthetics, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is also a place of healing and restoration. As Exton notes, gardens have the power to provide both physical and emotional grounding, making them an ideal destination during times of stress and uncertainty.
During the pandemic, the importance of outdoor spaces became increasingly evident, and the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden offered a peaceful respite from the challenges of daily life.
A major donor to the project, Colcom Foundation, supports environmental and conservation projects in southwestern Pennsylvania with a focus on remediating environmental damage from a history of heavy industry and supporting the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Foundation funds stewardship organizations, such as Tree Pittsburgh, an environmental nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing community vitality by restoring and protecting the urban forest through tree planting and care, education, advocacy, and land conservation. In 2019 and 2020, a grant from the Colcom Foundation paid for Tree Pittsburgh to give away 4,000 trees to help restore the urban forest canopy in Allegheny County.
Since 1996, Colcom Foundation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has supported conservation causes and fostered public discussions on ecologically sustainable immigration policy. Cordelia S. May founded the nonprofit organization to address natural resource depletion and enhance the cultural heritage of the southwestern Pennsylvania region. A board of directors oversees the Foundation’s asset management, ensuring that its philanthropic objectives are met.
Colcom Foundation’s environmental and conservation efforts in the southwestern Pennsylvania area cover counties such as Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. By investing in these initiatives, the Foundation aims to promote the sustainable development and preservation of the region’s natural resources.
Ultimately, conservation isn’t just about protecting nature for its own sake – it’s about preserving and improving our quality of life in all its dimensions. By helping fund The Garden of the Five Senses, Colcom Foundation not only made a significant contribution to both conservation efforts and the improvement of the quality of life for residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania but also brought magic and joy into the hearts and lives of its children.
Learn more about Colcom Foundation here: https://www.bizjournals.com/profile/company/org_ch_f2f3c6f9a451b5fd1e6da42525b77846