Skip to main content

ABQ BioPark Gives Victory Garden Starts to Local Non-Profits for National Public Gardens Week

Garden staff looking for ways to give back to those most in need.

May 13, 2020 - The ABQ BioPark is celebrating National Public Gardens Week May 8-17, but instead of bringing the public into the Botanic Garden, the garden is giving back to the community.

Every year, Botanical Interests, a seed company out of Broomfield, Colo., donates about 350 seed packets to the BioPark’s Botanic Garden, which are used to grow heirloom vegetables, herbs and pollinator-friendly flowers.

BioPark horticulture staff also uses the seeds to grow more than 400 plants in the Zoo greenhouses to give away to visitors during the annual Children’s Seed Festival as part of Earth Day celebrations. Traditionally, the garden celebrates National Public Gardens Week by handing out seed packets to visitors.

However, because the garden is closed for this year’s event, horticulture staff came up with a new plan: giving plants—including mixed herbs, flowers and vegetables— away to local organizations that need them. The recipients are the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Crossroads for Women, Agri-Cultura Network and Food is Free ABQ (FIFABQ). BioPark horticulture donated more than 800 plants to these organizations.

“Giving back to the community is an important part of our role as a community garden,” said Maria Thomas, ABQ BioPark curator of plants. “Although our event has changed a bit this year, we are proud to continue to celebrate National Public Gardens Week by giving plants to community organizations that reach out to those most in need right now.”

Many of the community gardens and food bank programs that will benefit from this donation are family-based. “With one out of every four New Mexico youth suffering from food insecurity, we hope that this donation to community programs like these will help contribute to greater food security for Albuquerque families, and especially children,” said Thomas.

American Friends Service Committee

American Friends Service Committee picking up plants at botanic garden, May 2020

AFSC has a farm to food bank program, sourcing the produce from organic and pesticide-free farms.

“In this time of need, we are very grateful to the ABQ BioPark for donating these plants,” said Sayrah Namaste, program director for AFSC. “We will be distributing them to local family farms who will grow food for our communities including the food pantries as part of our Farm to Foodbank program.”

Crossroads for Women

Crossroads for Women picking up plants at Botanic Garden, May 2020.

Crossroads for Women provides transitional and long-term community housing for women who are getting out of jail and returning to the community. Their mission is to provide comprehensive, integrated services to empower women emerging from incarceration to achieve safe, healthy, and fulfilling lives in the community, for themselves and their children. They have two housing units with 25 residents each. The grounds feature raised beds and gardening space to get residents involved in gardening.

Food is Free ABQ

FIFABQ reps pick up plants from Botanic Garden, May 2020.

Food is Free ABQ (FIFABQ) accepts plant donations to distribute to community gardens and garden co-ops in Albuquerque. They also provide free garden boxes and soil to community members to get them started.

Erin Garrison, executive director of FIFABQ, said her organization is “beyond thrilled” to hear that the BioPark is sharing these plants with their organization and others. “The plants FIFABQ receives will be given to individuals in our Gift of Growing program and to other organizations in support of their missions!”​

Agri-Cultura Network

Anita from Agricultura during Botanic Garden plant pickup, May 2020 at the BioPark.

The Agri-Cultura Network is a farmer cooperative located in the South Valley that works with a network of about 40 farmers. The organization operates as a food hub, connecting schools, senior centers, hospitals, restaurants, and more with local, fresh, organic produce grown by dedicated land stewards. The organization also operates a 300 family low-income Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program within the South Valley each summer from June through October.

“We are grateful for the plant donations from the BioPark and plan on distributing them to community members who participate in our CSA program,” said Anita Adalja, produce manager for Agri-Cultura Network.