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The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties Collaborates to Revitalize Downing Park


September 13, 2023

“Root for Trees!” Program Educates Next Generation

In 1894, Frederick Law Olmsted’s last collaboration with Calvert Vaux resulted in the creation of Downing Park, a Newburgh, New York public space masterpiece. Over time, the park fell victim to financial woes, a deadly tornado, and dwindling interest, leaving it forgotten by most. A modern collaboration between The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, The Downing Park Conservancy, The City of Newburgh, and The Garden Club of America changed all that. The Park has been revitalized and its future made secure and strong for generations to come, thanks in part to the “Root for Trees!” program. 

An experiential, year-round educational program, “Root for Trees!” immerses local students in an urban park setting and teaches tree and plant care, the importance of public green spaces, and educates students on environmental job opportunities. A recent collaboration with The Newburgh Urban Farm & Food Initiative also brings an element of urban farming (and emphasizes the importance thereof) to the students. 

The GCA’s support began in 2021 with their awarding of the Restoration Initiative grant and continues with the recent award in 2023 of the Common Ground Collaborative grant.

"Root for Trees!” has not only helped to revitalize the Downing Park landscape and brought people back to enjoy all it has to offer; it has secured  its longevity in the community by inspiring a new generation of stewards who truly understand the importance of Olmsted’s vision of social democracy and “Parks for All People.”



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