Rating: 5 stars 1 review
Location: 97 Main St South Paris ME 04281 USA
The McLaughlin Foundation stewards the McLaughlin gardens and homestead, a significant cultural site in Maine, for the benefit of this and future generations.
Results: We have come a long way in 11 years. We have purchased the entire site and restored most of the home and barn. The gardens are in great shape and the volunteer program is strong.
Target demographics: Three target audiences have been identified for the current strategic plan: Teens, seniors, and tourists. A regional high school is very close by and programming is in development to reach this target audience. The school has an excellent technical program and most students begin careers immediately after graduating. Seniors are the second priority target as those residing in this area have few, if any, activities to enhance their quality of life after retiring. The Garden offers significant opportunities for seniors to contribute their knowledge and experience as well as their time. This is why the Garden has been so successful as, with only 2 staff members, volunteers must fill significant leadership roles that would otherwise be filled by middle and upper management. Lastly, tourism is a significant economic driver of the area and the Garden is committed to contributing to the economic vitality of the Oxford Hills area.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Approximately 20,000 people visit the Garden each year.
Geographic areas served: Primarily southwestern Maine and more broadly through tourism.
Programs: High School Program "Teen Challenge" - ties nature to the state teaching standards and supports teachers by providing all resources for meeting standards in the arts, science, writing, and math that they have difficulty meeting. Steward Program - a volunteer program which provides meaningful ways for seniors to contribute to their communities and remain active and engaged. Historic Preservation Program - maintains the unique and threatened history of the remote, rural southwestern Maine. Heritage Horticulture Program - preserving unique and local varieties of plants.
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I have visited many public and private gardens throughout the world and feel that the McLaughlin Garden is a hidden treasure of Western Maine.
The annual lilac blooms are magnificent in size, variety, and setting! The garden is well-tended and provides a good educational experience for all gardeners, from novices through experts. Helpful and friendly staff, lovely gift shop, and wonderful plant sales enhance a visitor's enjoyment of the historic site. I have attended the educational presentations and cultural events, but mainly love to just find peacefullness in the many shaded areas of the winding paths and restful benches among the native plants.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
. . . the growth of their presence in the community. They need more publicity and funding to improve recogniton and use by the public, however. Their devoted volunteers have really provided a HUGE amount of time and effort to provide for and promote the garden's growth.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
. . . make renovations to the historic buildings that are in dire need of maintenence. INCREASE THE GARDENING STAFF so that the gardens really "shine". Provide funds for future historic, environmental, and educational programs on the grounds. Provide better facilities for a LARGER KITCHEN to provide for a public cafe and food service for events.