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Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Outdoors

Publish Date: 2020-05-20

What about your business / organization is inspiring to you?

Beatrix Farrand Garden Association: Our garden was designed by Beatrix Farrand in 1912 and served as a family garden for several generations. Sadly it was left to nature and uncared for until the early 90s when a dedicated, generous, and brilliant group of local volunteers joined forces to bring it back to its former glory. Many of those original volunteers are still in our powerhouse group, and now the beauty of their hard work can be enjoyed by visitors from all over the world. I think that Beatrix Farrand would be very proud of her legacy in Hyde Park and the joy that it has brought to all.  

Mountain Tops Outfitters: The love and support we receive from our customers. We have come to know so many people in our community through our business. We've watched their children grow and we've made a lot of friends that we might not have otherwise.

Innisfree Garden: Celebrating both our cultural and natural heritage, this iconic mid-twentieth century landscape is just as exciting to a five-year old as to a senior, to families as to serious gardeners, designers, hikers, naturalists, and artists. It is really a haven for everyone. Innisfree is alive with ideas and experiences that society needs now more than ever--a sense of wonder and peace, the connection between all living things, art, cultural diversity, and sustainable, nature-based practices. The garden is beginning to get serious international attention because the innovative, environmentally responsible, and remarkably cost-effective landscape maintenance practices developed here in the 1950s and 1960s are, in many ways, still ahead of cutting edge horticultural practices today yet with decades of proven success. These are ideas that can be transformative in home gardens and other public landscapes. In a normal year, this renowned landscape brings people of all backgrounds together from all over the world, quite literally. It's probably best known in Europe and Asia but we're working to let more of our neighbors know that Innisfree is a great local resource. 

How is your business / organization handling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Beatrix Farrand Garden Association: Sadly, many of our seasonal events have had to be postponed or canceled, but luckily you can't cancel nature! Spring continues to bring blooms and creatures and sunny days to the garden. Visitor accessibility is being monitored by the National Park Service and assessed weekly pleas see the website for more info.

Mountain Tops Outfitters: While we can't have our doors open, we fortunately have an online store. So we put everything on sale b/c we know it's a hard time for everyone and the community has really pulled through. We are making door step deliveries when we can and although we aren't making what we should this time of year, at least we can cover most of the shop's expenses.

Innisfree Garden: This year is Innisfree's 60th anniversary as a public garden. We had planned a year of special programming, including our first major benefit for July and a year of focused fundraising to help secure Innisfree's future for another 60 years and more. Like everyone else, we are instead working to cut costs at our nonprofit and get extra help from those who already know and love Innisfree. We might celebrate 60+1 years in 2021. In mid-March, Innisfree was closed to the public and our seasonal staff hadn't yet started so we were able to change staff procedures to follow state and national guidance for health and safety. When we had to cancel our Daffodil Viewing Weekends in late April and early May, the flowers didn't know the site was closed and were blooming beautifully. Wanting to share the simple gifts of this garden with members of our community so deeply impacted by COVID-19, volunteers cut, arranged, and delivered about 4,500 of Innisfree's heirloom daffodils to Vassar Brother's Medical Center and The Fountains, a nearby assisted living facility. We are preparing to open with touchless admissions, requiring off-site advance purchase of timed tickets. By limiting the number of tickets available and checking guests in at the front gate, we can strictly control the number of people on-site at any one time. We have also developed a plan that, like grocery stores, revises circulation within the garden to reinforce social distancing. We will install many new signs to reinforce social distancing and require visitors to wear masks.

What are your hopes for the future of travel in Dutchess County?

Beatrix Farrand Garden Association: We hope that our garden and other sites in the area will continue to be a beacon to visitors seeking professional grade entertainment, historic education, and hospitality in an idyllic place. We look forward to increasing our visitor numbers in the years to come with engaging program curation, and we also hope to create new relationships with our fellow organizations. 

Mountain Tops Outfitters: We hope visitors recognize, as we do, that the outdoors are good for the mind and soul. The hiking, the kayaking, strolling Main streets, picking apples – we are really lucky to live where we do.

Innisfree Garden: Dutchess County is the perfect mix of nature and culture--great beauty, great history, great music, great food, and great people. Going forward, we hope that our neighbors will explore and enjoy more of what's right around them. We can't imagine a better place for a fabulous staycation. In the future, we also hope more visitors will find their way here because there is so much to see and do and so much space in which to experience this remarkable diversity.

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