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Botanic Gardens celebrates 250th anniversary

Botanic Gardens celebrates 250th anniversary

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The 250th anniversary of the founding of the Botanic Gardens will be celebrated this year, throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines, with a year-long series of events.

This was announced yesterday at a press conference hosted by the event’s organizing committee at the National Public Library at Richmond Hill.{{more}}

Featured speaker, Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture Cecil McKie proudly declared: “After 250 years, we can indeed be very proud of that facility. It is well-kept, and of the standard that can compare and compete with the best in the region!”

Celebrating under the theme ‘Celebrating 250 years of Biodiversity and Conservation’, the programme of activities includes:

January 23 – re-enactment of the arrival of the breadfruit tree, brought by Captain William Bligh

February 14 – Valentine’s Day moonlight dinner at the amphitheatre

March 13 – National Hero’s Day tree planting and unveiling of a ‘hero’ stone

April 21 – Cultural fair and family fun day at the Botanic Gardens

April 23 – Botanic Gardens Day, to mark the establishment of the institution

May 1 – free entry to the Gardens, with plants/local craft on sale and art exhibition

June 2 – ‘Back In Time’ cultural night

July – 1 – Day Scientific Symposium, ‘The Botanic Gardens: from St Vincent to the World’

August 25 – Display of all key historic mono-crops, and opening of new plots and trails

October 27 – Regional floral competition

November 27 – Recognition/awards dinner for staff

December 16 – 24 – Lighting up of key areas in the Gardens to coincide with Nine Mornings Festival.

McKie said that EC$100,000 has been specifically allocated to intensify the repair and improvement of the Botanic Gardens, which was founded in 1765 – with financial contributions also coming from the Friends of the Botanic Gardens and other organizations.

He further explained that the Gardens is still the tourism site of greatest demand in SVG, with almost 30,000 visitors each year, most of whom are locals.

McKie added that this scheduled intensification of upkeep will be applied across all tourism and heritage sites, in preparation for the opening of the Argyle international airport.

“We are going to be welcoming even persons to our shores,” he asserted. “So, as such, we have to be prepared.”

Andrew Wilson, director at National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority, pointed out that celebrating this milestone anniversary is a great achievement, especially in light of the fact that our Botanic Gardens is regarded as the oldest botanic gardens in the western hemisphere.

“It is also a special privilege for us all to be a part of a civilization in 2015 that will witness an institution celebrating 250 years of existence,” he asserted. “It is very rare for us in this generation… so, this is really a special honour.”

Wilson expressed gratitude to several corporate sponsors who have contributed over the years to enhancing the Botanic Gardens and its services.

“We certainly appeal, solicit and welcome other like-minded private sector entities and individuals to donate by way of monetary donations, equipment or technical assistance,” he urged. “No assistance is too small for us to accept.”

Gordon Shallow, curator of the Botanic Gardens, also gave brief remarks, elaborating on the re-enactment that will take place on January 23 to commemorate the introduction of the breadfruit plant locally.

“This would… seek to be as accurate as possible and also prove to be a very educational aspect,” he noted.

Schools in Kingstown have been invited to have their students take part in the re-enactment, which will begin at 10 a.m., from the Agricultural Input Warehouse to the Botanic Gardens at New Montrose.

Chairing the press conference was Anthony Theobalds, chief cultural officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture.(JSV)

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