Help Establish the Julie M. Johnson Teaching Gardens
The Campaign in Honor of Julie Johnson is a special $150,000 initiative to mark and celebrate the twenty year legacy of the Hitchcock Center’s outgoing executive director Julie Johnson. This honorific campaign recognizes Julie’s significant contributions to environmental education, the regenerative building movement, and the Hitchcock Center.
The Campaign will support an inspiring new teaching resource, The Julie M. Johnson Teaching Gardens, completing the Center’s epic $6.9M Building for the Future campaign launched under Julie’s direction in 2013. These gardens are the final piece of the Center’s Outdoor Classroom (Phase II of the Building for the Future campaign) which serves as an important educational extension of the Center’s award-winning Certified Living Building. Funding will also deliver new curriculum development for children and adults alike that focus on pollinators, food, climate, gardening for biodiversity, permaculture and ecological design, in addition to materials and training for a volunteer team to maintain the gardens.
With construction beginning this spring, the gardens will include raised garden beds, fruit trees, pathways, benches, and a rainwater capture system. The gardens will be situated immediately to the south of the Center between the Colleen Kelley Discovery Yard (an exploratory nature play yard for young children) and the Margaret Towne Teaching Pavilion. Combined, these three resources provide an unrivaled, spectacularly beautiful community resource, free and open to all, where people of all ages and abilities can engage in nature learning, reflection and discovery.
After twenty years leading the Hitchcock Center through an historic period of growth and transition, executive director Julie Johnson is stepping down to pursue an independent consulting business. Highlights from her tenure include:
- Securing the Center’s new home at Hampshire College through a long-term 95-year ground lease as the newest member of Hampshire College’s Cultural Village
- Implementing a successful $6.9M Building for the Future capital campaign to create a world renowned, architecturally significant, sustainable building, the 23rd such building in the world and fourth in the state to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge
- Facilitating a strategic broadening of the Center’s mission through the Center’s new living building—a unique teaching tool for new programs that develop the next generation of environmental leaders
- Establishing the Center’s first endowment, now valued at $1.3 million, and growing the Center’s net assets to well over $6 million, while ensuring that the organization’s financial position remains cash-positive, healthy and resilient.
The Julie M. Johnson Teaching Gardens
The Teaching Gardens will use regenerative principles that are in keeping with the Living Building Challenge. They will support growing programs that reflect the goals of sustainable education, aiming to connect learners to the land and create positive changes for local communities and ecosystems. A series of garden beds will reflect influences drawn from permaculture, deep ecology, ecological design and indigenous cultures. Curriculum will integrate with the Teaching Gardens to provide interdisciplinary, active and engaged learning for people of all ages, including young children. The gardens will be designed to achieve the widest range of physical accessibility possible while creating a space that is beautiful and aesthetically inspiring.