GRANT #407:

Garden of the Groves

07/13/2020
Grand Bahama’s Awesomely Gorgeous Garden Misses Its Visitors (and their cash)

Almost every person who’s ever gotten off a cruise ship in Grand Bahama Island has probably visited the Garden of the Groves in Freeport. It’s a gorgeous private enclave of trails and ponds, beautiful waterfalls, natural vegetation and home to over a hundred species of migratory and Bahamian birds. It’s amazing, as is its remarkable proprietor, Erika Gates, who was born in Germany and has lived in Freeport for over half a century. She’s one of the island’s truly essential people! She’s a one-woman encyclopedia of gardening, wildlife, and island ecosystems.

Erika conducts free basic birding classes, established a Grand Bahama Island Birders group, and spearheads the GBI contribution to the annual Christmas Bird Count. The ornithological database at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY collects the observations of Grand Bahama’s birders.

Living in the Bahamas, Erika has been through a hurricane or two. Or twenty. Who can keep count?

But the devastation from Hurricane Dorian was multiplied by the devastation of the tourist trade. When you hear about cruise ships being docked because of the pandemic, you probably don’t think about birds and fish and plants whose lives have been sustained by the economic benefits cruise passengers bring to their island ports of call. The Garden of The Groves depends on thousands of visitors to provide the money to run the place. Nature needs a lot of management, and that includes a series of pumps that keep the water features flowing.

Our Awesome Without Borders grant will help with some of those equipment needs. Check out The Garden Of The Groves website (and everybody’s pix on Insta, #GardenOfTheGroves).  If you’re hoping for an island vacation, put the Garden on your wishlist when we’re traveling again.