Rebuilding Grimal Grove

Rebuilding Grimal Grove
Today we went to Grimal Grove Botanical Garden in Big Pine Key and helped with all sorts of tasks to rebuild the garden that Patrick Garby worked to maintain through thick and thin, and through hurricane Irma in the fall of 2017. Grimal Grove was established in 1955 and has some rare kinds of foreign original plants and mother plants like a special mango plant and velvet apple. Grimal and his colleagues traveled all over the world to do research and bring back various types of tropical fruits to plant in his garden, where over twenty years later, the plants still remain. The two-acre land went through phases of difficulties time after time. After Grimal died, the garden turned into a crack house and junkyard and had over $85,000 in fines. However, when Patrick investigated the land, he found those unique one of a kind plants not known anywhere else in the world, got inspired, and turned the junkyard back into the beautiful botanical garden it once was. The garden became a community center of education of healthy foods, and other youth programs that benefited the entire society.

It was just starting to truly prosper when all of a sudden, a category four hurricane Irma came along and wiped out two thirds of the trees on the property, along with severe other damages. The garden went from around two hundred plants, to sixty, and since then, the garden has been trying to recover. In addition to the initial detrimental effects of Irma, Patrick, who had lost his housing himself, had no one who could really help him get the garden back on track except for a few people occasionally. Everyone was so busy with repairing their own houses, and working, that no one could spare the time to work on the garden with Patrick, even eight months later, so this shows how much Patrick needed our help.

We arrived at eight thirty, learned about the significance of the garden, were split into groups, and immediately began working for the next six hours. Some groups were in charge of picking weeds everywhere, spreading mulch, cleaning up trash and debris, planting more trees, and securing the fence around the perimeter of the garden. I was in charge of securing the fence with Joseph, and we tied on fencing wire and brackets to the existing loose fence, and out up that was already there to make sure that the key deer wouldn’t be able to eat the plants. In addition, after we finished with the fence, I helped pull tons of weeds and helped get trash to the front, make concrete and plat multiple plants. I had such a great experience doing all of this, it felt amazing to give back to a community that was in such need with such a great cause behind it’s organization. I was honored to be a part of an important cause.

– Rachel Hendry