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Crowdfunding for Connecticut Parks


November 11, 2021

Connecticut Valley Garden Club Unites Hartford Parks

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Connecticut Valley Garden Club (CVGC) member took her grandchildren to some of Hartford’s many parks. The parks were filled with people of all ages who saw the parks as a safe place to be. It was clear that with an increase in park visitation, a higher level of maintenance was required. She also noted that many of the parks needed some improvements. Realizing that city government alone could not possibly provide the extra funds needed for the parks, she wondered if those who used the parks would be willing to participate in a crowdfunding project to create an awareness of park needs and raise funds for the parks.

The idea was enthusiastically adopted by CVGC and a committee was formed to explore the idea with several of the Hartford parks. The concept was to unite the parks under one crowdfunding umbrella. After researching various crowdfunding organizations, CVGC found that would match funds raised for public projects through crowdfunding. Four of the city’s historic parks enthusiastically joined CVGC and SustainableCT, in what became Park Challenge 2021. Bushnell Park (America’s first publicly funded park), Colt Park, Keney Park (an Olmsted firm design), and Riverfront Recapture’s Charter Oak Landing each identified a project and set financial goals for their portion of the campaign. The park projects were simple: plant twelve to fifteen new trees (Bushnell Park), purchase picnic tables, benches and a few plantings (Colt Park), transform an invasive-infested meadow into a wildflower meadow with bees (Keney Park), and create a daylily garden along the Connecticut River (Riverfront).

In addition, CVGC provided boldly illustrated signs in English and Spanish for each park, describing their project. Each park had a unique QR code which would take a donor directly to that park’s fundraising page. CVGC asked Hartford’s Mayor, Luke Bronin, to declare May as “Hartford Parks Month”. The Mayor enthusiastically agreed and hosted a kickoff ceremony in Bushnell Park.

By the second week in May, all participating parks had received donations from at least twenty donors and by early June, all parks had raised sufficient funds to meet their goal and receive their matching grant. In total, almost $20,000 was matched by SustainableCT for a total of $49,203 raised for the parks. In addition, CVGC learned that crowdfunding for parks is not only something every garden club can do, it resonates with the public for a cause everyone can enjoy.


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