Our Bodhi Garden has been our gift to the Downtown Orlando community since 2007. To date, thousands of students, volunteers, and visitors have contributed to making this sacred space a reality.
Our community education garden is a green space whose work and bounty is shared by all who contribute their time and energy to the creation and maintenance. Some models of Community Gardens involve individuals purchasing or leasing a designated plot and maintaining only that plot. Our Garden offers a collective model, where students enrolled in our programs and community volunteers share the maintenance of the overall garden, and share the harvest collectively of the herbal plants within. The primary purpose of the garden is to offer both ongoing educational opportunities for those who visit our school and neighborhood, and also a dedicated space to commune with nature, reconnect with the plants, and create a sacred space as a community.
What educational opportunities does the Garden provide?
Our school offers organic gardening, herbalism, and sustainable living curriculum using the garden as our classroom and model. We offer both extended courses and one-time workshops – on topics such as gardening practices, plant life cycles, and sustainable technology. In addition, everyone has an opportunity for hands-on education through internships and our volunteer program. Students at the school also use the garden for educational research on growth rates using different organic fertilizers, herbal treatments, and seed stock. Finally, anyone who visits our neighborhood has the opportunity to enrich their experience by wandering through the garden and learning more about individual plants through educational placards and our plant guide.
As an educational garden, each harvest is carefully scheduled based on earth, lunar, and garden cycles. Garden classes and volunteers are coordinated to facilitate all harvesting. We focus our harvest on educational activities & on propagating new plants to distribute in our community. We are proud to have distributed over 1000 plants to members of our community through harvests from our garden in the form of seeds and propagated seedlings. Volunteers and students in the garden also have an opportunity to take home freshly harvested herbs according to the harvest schedule.
We also host music and meditation circles on each New and Full Moon in the garden. Click here to learn more about our Moon Circles.
What plants are in the Garden?
Medicinal and culinary herbs are the focus of this educational garden, coupled with sacred trees and native, drought tolerant butterfly plants. You can download our Garden Guide for more information about the plants we currently steward.
When was the garden planted?
Phase One of the Garden began in June 2007 with construction of the garden beds, and culminated on September 11, 2007, a new moon, with a Peace Planting Ceremony where all the plants were introduced to their new home. A garden is an ongoing project, allowing for continued evolution & creative input, so our canvas is also transforming. It is a natural art form, and we invite you to share in its continuing growth for years to come! View photos of the progression of our garden here.
Our garden’s centerpiece, the Bodhi Tree (Ficus religioso) is a fifth generation descendant from the Bodhgaya grove in India, where the Buddha is said to have sat when he reached his enlightenment. This tree was rescued by staff of the Florida School of Holistic Living from University of Central Florida, where administration was removing its mother to pour a concrete courtyard.
This tree was planted on September 11th, 2007 – a New Moon – with 250 community members in a procession of prayer. Each participant added a shovel-full of soil along with their prayers for peace and harmony within our community.
The altar stands as a testament of our community’s spirit, and individuals often leave tokens of gratitude, blessing, and prayer for loved ones or the planet. All are free to leave their blessings, and we thank you for leaving all items found at the tree in place, to honor the spirit of community giving.
How can I get involved?
Your sweat equity is a valuable contribution and highly educational! Visit this page to learn more about current opportunities to get your hands in the dirt. We also gratefully receive tax-deductible monetary donations, as well as in-kind donations of plants, tools, and garden technology.
We invite schools, organizations, and individuals to contact us for a private tour of the garden, or to coordinate a private class within the garden. We also work with neighborhoods, community organizations, and individuals to offer gardening programs for your school or group in Central Florida, at your location. Contact us to determine how we can best partner with you or a better organization to refer you.
In 2012, our garden became the first United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary recognized in the state of Florida. We are honored to be one of ninety recognized sanctuaries in the country.
United Plant Savers is a non-profit organization founded by Rosemary Gladstar. The mission of United Plant Savers is to preserve, conserve and restore native medicinal plants and their habitats of the US and Canada, while ensuring their abundant, renewable supply for future generations. To this end, United Plant Savers established one of our most important projects: the Botanical Sanctuary Network. As they became more deeply involved in the complexities of plant preservation, they realized that in order to preserve plants we must first preserve and protect the habitat in which our native plant communities thrive. What better way than to create a network of sanctuaries dedicated to restoring and preserving habitat for wildlife, both plants and animals.
In addition to our focus on preserving native medicinal species, we also utilize rainwater, compost technology, and recycled plastic lumber (from milk jugs) to lighten our footprint.
Our Garden Sponsors
Want to see your company or organization’s name added to the growing list of Central Florida supporters of sustainable gardening in our urban area? Contact us for more details.