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Sustainability boost – Garden Foundation awarded $150K county grant

By Stephen Floyd

The Oregon Garden Foundation has been awarded a $150,000 grant from Marion County to help develop financial sustainability in its operations of The Oregon Garden.

The Board of County Commissioners approved the grant during their March 6 regular meeting, with funds coming from the Oregon Lottery.

Oregon Garden Director of Operations Delen Kitchen told Our Town the award would help achieve “long-term sustainability” by improving their funding infrastructure.

This includes new investments in programs at the gardens, as well as strengthening outreach to donors and their membership base, and the pursuit of additional grants.

“The Garden and its Board of Directors owe a huge debt of gratitude to Marion County and the commissioners, past and present, who have shared in and tirelessly supported our vision,” said Kitchen.

The foundation re-acquired management of The Oregon Garden in 2020 from prior manager Moonstone Garden Management, Inc. At the time the facility was heavily indebted due to declines in participation and challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support the garden’s financial recovery, Marion County forgave roughly $6 million in debts to give the foundation a clean slate to pursue financial stability.

Kelli Weese, the county’s Economic Development Program Manager, said the grant will help the foundation “continue to build consistency in its fundraising efforts to support achieving long-term sustainability.”

“I believe that the foundation is well on its way to this goal,” Weese told Our Town.

Kitchen said, with the tens of thousands of people from across the world who visit the garden every year, they are grateful to play an important role in the economic development of the region.

“Our team is particularly excited for a successful 2024 and moving towards a bright future for our organization and our community,” said Kitchen.

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