Thursday, June 20, 2013

A New Way To Look At Life And The Future Of Our World

Although I am usually the one posting blogs for the Gardens, Joe, the Gardens' Executive Director, recently posted a blog on Kona Kai's website that I thought would be worthwhile re-posting here...enjoy!


That's our goal at The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort. It's a lofty goal that we are succeeding at, but without your help we can't do it forever.

Initially started in 1994 as a landscaping project for our evolving Florida Keys resort, in 2008 Grounds Director Veronika Milar and General Manager Tracey Weaver advocated a garden expansion to provide additional pleasure for our resort guests.

Kona Kai in the mid-'90s - quite a difference!
It was then that owners Joe and Veronica Harris first realized the uniqueness and importance of many of the plants on our grounds. Following extensive Internet research, Joe and Ronnie again expanded the range of plant species, with the intention of advocating the important role plants play in our everyday lives. Their vision has led to what we offer today: The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort, an integral - but separate - part of the Kona Kai experience, open to the public since March 2011.

Our first batch of educational display labels in early 2011!
Today, funded by resort profits, The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort is a separate, educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We fulfill our educational mission through the ethnobotanical tour we offer our guests, Florida Keys residents and visitors, by our satellite partnership with The Fairchild Challenge educational program for school students, and with our evolving educational ethnobotanic website,

Sharing the importance of coconut palms with students.
Our visitors and school students greatly appreciate the foundation we provide towards their appreciating the enduring value and ecological importance of plants. Rick, our ethnobotanist (we believe we're one of the only hotels/resorts in the world with a staff ethnobotanist), writes a blog where you can learn more about our efforts. Here are some links to our educational success stories:

KKBG - Fairchild Challenge Awards Ceremony 2013

KKBG - 2012-2013 Satellite Partnership with The Fairchild Challenge

Olympic Wreath Competition 2012

First year of our ethnobotanic tour...

You can, of course, explore all of Rick's blogs, as well as much of our Gardens by going to on your computer - be it desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. We're currently working on an extensive expansion of our ethnobotanic plant "stories," so everyone who hears about our Gardens can visit us here in Key Largo from anywhere in the world. We're doing this to demonstrate just how significant plants are to our lives, our continued survival and our successful evolution as a species. Doing what many thought was a bit outlandish, Joe and the Kona Kai team have achieved the dual purpose of giving people a place to relax while seeding an understanding that the more we learn about - and from - plants, the better our world will become.

Preparing a sample of Key lime for tour-takers.
We tell you all this because, as mentioned above, our Gardens are funded by resort profits, which go only so far. We need your donations and your endowments if we are to continue to grow our mission and our Gardens. Remember, from little acorns do great things grow: we'd like The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort to be here long after Kona Kai Resort is gone. Our profits alone cannot make that happen.  Click here to support us!

Joe Harris
Executive Director