Dear Friends of the Gardens,
Those of you who have visited us lately may already realize the importance of a botanical garden to its surrounding communities.
The immediate benefit to our visitors is obvious: it's a sanctuary of beauty, peace and wonder, rife with opportunities for learning and reflection. While we pride ourselves on providing such a setting for our visitors, our function as a resource to the community extends well beyond offering immediate pleasures.
Our rapidly changing world sees rampant industrial and commercial development, the by-products of which burgeon beyond the ability of our forests and oceans to keep up.
Our Gardens provide not just a conservation site and scientific study resource to help even that balance, but a means for the community to reconnect personally with the fascinating world of plants and nature.
While we are all happy to benefit from the conveniences and comfortable standard of living that modernization brings, that lifestyle can have drastic consequences.
It is a sad reflection on our modern priorities that the average American child is now able to identify more than 100 corporate logos yet often fewer than 10 local plants from the region in which he lives.
We see how this has become possible, given the influence of television and the Internet, but imagine the average child in the Bahía de Banderas region a mere 100 years ago. It's unlikely that children would have been exposed to even a few corporate logos, but they would have been taught from infancy to identify plants as a way to survive and help around the farm or ranch. This kind of education resulted in a rich ethno-botanical knowledge base, much of it passed down by hands-on training and oral traditions largely unchanged since the pre-Hispanic indigenous era.
Many of the ways people have used local plants from the tropical dry forests of western Mexico are disappearing with urbanization and an educational system that focuses more on technology and the global market than on local resources.
We at the Gardens are doing our part to turn this tide by encouraging our local community to visit us and learn about those plants. We are especially reaching out to the children by inviting school groups to visit and learn with us, free of charge.
We hope you will become an even closer part of this community by joining us as a member. Your financial support not only helps us maintain our programs but offers you many benefits, perhaps the most important of which is unlimited entry to the Gardens. Our staff and volunteers have begun our most ambitious planting of seasonal flowers ever, and the results this winter and spring are sure to be beyond anything that can be experienced in just one or two visits.
Despite sensationalist media reports to the contrary, Mexico remains a safe and beautiful country to visit. To those of you in Puerto Vallarta, please come up and visit us soon; to those of you in other places, keep Mexico in your hearts.
Curator & Founder
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