Rotary Botanical Gardens applying for Travel Green certification

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, April 11, 2013

— Hoping to gain a marketing edge, Rotary Botanical Gardens is in the process of applying for Travel Green certification through the state Department of Tourism.

“This program heightens the visibility of environmentally-friendly groups, so we thought it was a perfect fit to the gardens and a natural tie with the green space and horticultural center,” said Mary Fanning-Penny, the gardens' executive director.

The certification serves as an additional marketing tool, she said.

Once its application is reviewed and certified, the gardens will be listed in a Wisconsin Department of Tourism directory that includes state parks, hotels, bed and breakfasts and different attractions. Certification also could be promoted on the gardens' marketing materials and website.

Fanning-Penny said the application process is extensive, but that there are no benchmarks to adhere to. But there are quite a few questions with regard to an organization's green practices, including how it embraces recycling, repurposing and conservation efforts, she said.

In addition, “there are suggested actions you can take to continue to improve your green practices,” she said. These would enhance the gardens' current conservation of water and electricity and its safe treatment of soil and plants in the gardens, she said.

Gardens acquires electric cart

Your parents and grandparents are coming to town for a visit and you'd like to take them to Rotary Botanical Gardens. But you're not sure if they'll be able to walk the grounds of the 20-acre facility at 1455 Palmer Drive.

That problem is solved. The gardens recently bought a six-passenger electric cart that is available for visitors to get around the gardens.

“We just acquired it through funding received with a grant from Caxambas Foundation,” Milwaukee, said Mary Fanning-Penny, gardens' executive director.

Fanning-Penny said the grant paid the entire cost of the $8,000 cart.

Feedback received from guests at the gardens showed a need for some kind of transportation “especially for mobility-impaired individuals to enjoy access to the gardens,” Fanning-Penny said.

Though the gardens have always provided wheelchairs, some of paths are not conducive to enjoying the entire gardens, she said.

“This way, regardless of any incline or shape of the path, we're hoping this allows people to see more of the gardens,” Fanning-Penny said.

In addition, an accessibility map that explains the gardens' different paths, slopes and inclines and whether they are paved or gravel is available.

The gardens prefer that those hoping to use the cart call in advance so it is ready to go and a staff member or volunteer can be available to operate it.

To schedule usage of the cart, call the gardens at 608-752-3855.

Last updated: 10:27 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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