What You'll Learn at Franklin Park Conservatory's New Education Center

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Watch how the garden grows! Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens recently revealed the touchstone of its latest development plan-a sprawling new building for educational programming.

The facility, set to open Saturday, Oct. 31, is situated between the main conservatory building and the Community Garden Campus. The 11,000-square-foot space will employ its improved amenities and meetings area to host demonstrations, classes, family events and more.

More room means more possibilities for community outreach and education, a unique priority for a conservatory and botanical garden, says executive director Bruce Harkey.

"Many people know us as a tourist destination, but the new building is going to be really critical as far as elevating people's knowledge of us as an arts and cultural organization," Harkey says. "This entire collection of assets is very exciting."

The new center's close proximity to the community garden has planted the seed for additional gardening programs. The conservatory will host its annual Urban Agricultural Summit here and is planning to grow a variety of new programs within the space.

Coming this winter, for example, will be horticulture and sustainability classes, covering subjects such as garden design, butterfly gardening and birdscaping, indoor plants and seed starting. Registration fees range from $5 to $50 for a series.

The new building will also have a top-notch cooking demonstration area. Sign up for winter classes led by local chefs and learn about preparing ethnic menus, gluten-free cooking, eating vegan, cooking with herbs, making winter soups and more. Fees range between $25 and $45, depending on the style of the class.

In true conservatory style, visitors to the new building will have quite the view. Much of its up-cycled timber frame is constructed from a 200-year-old barn in Richland County that was set to be torn down in 2014.