For over 60 years the Nantucket Garden Club has raised funds to foster local interest in gardening, horticulture, and landscape design and to improve the quality of the environment through land conservation and ecological initiatives.
The Club’s grant program responds to funding requests from community groups and organizations for specific ongoing programs and new projects. Many applications are for several thousand dollars or less. However, the Club has also responded to much larger requests, especially in recent years. For example:
In 2011, it donated $20,000 to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation toward purchase of the 110-acre University of Massachusetts Field Station on Polpis Road, a year-round facility used for education, research, and community service programs on Nantucket.
The Club’s grant program is made possible by fund-raising activities of Club members. The largest revenue source is the Nantucket House Tour, an event held annually since the mid-1950s. Residents of some of the most beautiful and historic homes on Nantucket agree to open their property to visitors on an August day for the price of a ticket that benefits the Club’s grant program. Ticket sales and purchases at the tour’s gift “boutique” can net over $40,000 annually.
Recipients of Nantucket Garden Club Grants
Below is a selection of some of the recipients of Club grants over the years. It illustrates the Club’s longstanding role in encouraging Nantucket non-profit institutions and organizations to safeguard Nantucket’s natural resources and foster appreciation of beauty in public spaces and private gardens.
Nantucket Conservation Foundation: The Club has been a financial donor since the early days of the Foundation’s establishment in 1963, when the Foundation begin acquiring land for conservation purposes. (The Foundation now owns and manages more than 30% of all land on Nantucket.) The Club helped in various ways, from providing funds for an interpretive trail at the Windswept Cranberry Bog (1980) to helping produce and print an interpretive trail map of the Middle Moors (2004), the largest, contiguous protected open space on Nantucket. The latest Club support for the UMass Field Station is noted above.
Nantucket Land Council: The Club encourages efforts by the Nantucket Land Council to foster conservation and environmental initiatives on the island. Since the Council’s founding in 1974, the Club has helped fund numerous programs, including the Council’s purchase of conservation restrictions on 270 acres of valuable Nantucket property. Other projects focused on restoring fragile seaside sand dunes, fighting the spread of invasive plants, and printing an illustrated pamphlet on the various species of trees lining the streets of downtown Nantucket.
Massachusetts Audubon Society: Established in 1890, the Society is the owner of approximately 900 acres of conservation land on Nantucket. The Club supports the Society’s ongoing research and conservation projects to prevent the spread of invasive species and encourage the growth of healthy grasslands and native vegetation on Nantucket.
Maria Mitchell Association: The Club has longstanding ties with this century-old institution. The Maria Mitchell Association was a recipient of a $10,000 grant earned from sales of the Club’s 2001 publication “Wildflowers of Nantucket.”. This gift supported the Association’s “Biodiversity Initiative and Assessment Week.” The Club also donated funds to help the Association develop a natural science curriculum for Nantucket schools, including special programs in birding, botany, and astronomy education.
Focus on Horticulture and Beauty
The NGC’s long history of giving includes many efforts to preserve Nantucket’s beauty and heritage. Following are some of the highlights of the Club’s wide-ranging support for the community and the land.
Over the years the Club has presented a flower show in July featuring creative floral arrangements, as well as a wide range of horticultural specimens. Recently added categories include photography, conservation exhibits, and botanical jewelry. This free competitive event, known as the Green Thumb Flower Show, attracts residents and visitors alike and includes numerous entries from the Nantucket Community as well as Club members.
The Club has taken many steps over the years to keep Nantucket’s public places more attractive and well-maintained.
In the 1960s and 70s, it established and embellished the early gardens at the Nantucket Airport with trees, planting, and benches. In 1968, the airport received a Federal Aviation Administration award for one of the country’s most beautiful airport gardens.
Nantucket’s Cottage Hospital received landscaping help from the Club periodically since the 1950s. Most recently, the Club provided a bench at the hospital’s front entrance.
Donations for the Atheneum Garden also date back to the late 1950s. Over the years, the Club has provided numerous plants and trees to landscape the property of this historic town library. In the early 1990s, the Club donated $50,000 to rebuild the Atheneum’s adjoining garden following a major renovation of the building. A new master plan for the garden was developed in 2006 with a $3,500 Club donation.
The Club’s relationship with the historic garden at Hadwen House on Main Street is especially cherished. In the mid-1970s, the Club funded construction of a period 1850s style garden behind the mansion. This new garden was designed by Rudy Favretti, a University of Connecticut Professor of Landscape Architecture. The Club continues to oversee the garden’s upkeep and to purchase appropriate plantings for this beautiful site that is open to the public.
Nantucket schools have also received Club donations to improve the surrounding landscape. Most recently, the Club donated $5,000 for equipment to be used by students in maintaining gardens established in partnership with the school system and Sustainable Nantucket, a Nantucket non-profit organization.
Nantucket’s Oldest House similarly benefits from longstanding Club support reaching back to the mid-1960s. The Club financed a landscaping plan, plantings, fencing, and a cobbled roadway. Subsequent funding included support for restoration work after a fire in 1988. Most recently, the Club funded plants for the historically accurate kitchen garden adjacent to the Oldest House, as well as a new perennial garden.
Nantucket is dotted with trees planted through Club donations. These include shade trees along Jetties Beach Road, at the Lightship Basket Museum, and bordering Broad Street leading to the ferry dock. Following the major hurricane in 1991, the Club donated $10,000 to replace trees destroyed by that fierce storm.
Over the years, residences and facilities for Nantucket’s senior citizens–Landmark House, Our Island Home, the Homestead, Saltmarsh Center, and Sherburne Commons–have all received Club funds for landscaping purposes, including walking paths and special theme gardens.
Smaller, but no less important, are grants for such projects as repair of historic Stone Alley between Union and Orange Streets in the 1970s and 80s, special plantings to celebrate America’s bicentennial in 1976, new plantings in Lily Pond Park in 1995, and the India Street Pocket Park in 2006. The Club has long supported modest requests from the 40-plot Nantucket Community Garden on Hummock Pond Road for gardening tools and other supplies.
The Nantucket Garden Club Community Grant program is available to local non-profit organizations seeking funding for specific programs or initiating a project with seed money. The project would need to continue to be supported by the requesting organization.
Each year, our club conducts the August House Tour to raise funds for community programs/projects and four scholarships for Nantucket High School graduates. This is a legacy of over 50 years that The Nantucket Garden Club has given back to the community funds to help promote horticulture, conservation, preservation and beautification of Nantucket.
Our committee reviews the applications that are received by August 1. All applicants will be advised regarding acceptance or rejection by mail after September 1. If the request is accepted, grant support will be payable at the same time. We do request a brief progress report and update of the program/project by August l of the following year.
There are many worthwhile requests for our Nantucket Garden Club funding, but we must select only a few each year that are in line with our mission and purpose: “The purposes of this Club shall be (a)to promote better knowledge and love of gardening, plants, flowers, and all branches of horticulture: (b)to conserve birds, wildflowers, native plants and trees and the ecological well-being of Nantucket Island, the Commonwealth of Mass. and the Nation, through direct contribution to civic, charitable and governmental institutions and funds that qualify as tax exempt: and(c to raise and expend money for public benefit contributing to the beauty of the Island.”
Among those supported in recent years:
The Scholarship Program
The NGC remains committed to providing scholarships to Nantucket students. The first scholarship of $500 was awarded in 1973. The amount of funds allocated for scholarships and the eligibility requirements have evolved over the years. Currently, four tuition scholarships of $5,000 each are awarded every year. The Club’s Scholarship Chair consults with the Nantucket High School scholarship committee, which is made up of teachers and staff, to select qualified candidates. Applicants must show academic proficiency in their studies and pursue such fields as biology, ecology, horticulture, landscape design, conservation, or other related areas. These scholarships are renewable for four years. The funds are mailed directly to the institution where the student is enrolled and are for tuition purposes only.
If you are interested in receiving a grant from the Nantucket Garden Club, please fill out the Community Grant Application Form and return by July 31 to:
PO Box 627, Nantucket, MA 02554