This in from Kirsten on behalf of the Ventnor Botanic Garden. In her own words, Ed
After one year in operation without the aid of Council subsidy, Ventnor Botanic Garden is holding its admission fees for Island residents for another season.
With large capital investments, big changes have been happening at VBG over the past 12 months. John Curtis, Director of the Community Interest Company running the Garden explained,
“The Garden costs £1,528 a day to run and we are nowhere near breakeven at this stage.”
On top of these running costs, the Garden has had to cope with years of under investment in the facilities by the Council.
Chris Kidd, Curator of Ventnor Botanic Garden said,
“Over the last year, we have worked hard with our Chef, Martyn Cutler, to deliver fresh, vibrant, island grown dishes in more elegant surroundings.
“At the same time I have extended the Olive Grove, extended the Mediterranean Garden, and put in solar panels to heat our greenhouses with the support of EcoIsland and the VBG Friend’s Society. I don’t think any botanic garden has done so much, so fast.”
New sticker system
VBG is continuing to make it clear that there are no parking charges and that entry to The Plantation Room Cafe, edulis restaurant and The Garden Gallery is free.
Having previously had problems with the ‘honour system’ – the Council and the local police are helping VBG respond to people entering the Garden without paying and so making it fair for all visitors. A new sticker system now makes it very clear who has a ticket or a seasonal pass to enter the Garden.
Through listening to local parents VBG has introduced special tariffs for local schools and pre-schools and a selection of seasonal passes. There is even a pay as you go option for those who prefer or need to pay monthly, initially pushed for by OnTheWight.
VBG has done a huge amount to improve the Garden and bring this Island jewel back to strength. Dean Miller, a gardener who has been at VBG for over 30 years commented,
“John has shown us how to get those who care about the Garden involved through his monthly Design Walks.”
John Curtis has made a huge personal contribution to saving the Garden – he describes his aim is to fix the business, not indefinitely subsidise it. He often explains the sustainability drive at VBG is not just environmental, it is financial as well.
A VBG staff member explained that active or modern philanthropy is like the shift in development aid – it is less about providing fish and more about providing fishing rods and the skills to use them.
Ventnor Botanic Garden has a busy summer ahead and looks forward to welcoming visitors.
Update: 1 August 2013
The new entry tariff from August 2013 is embedded below for your convenience.