Click here for our 2013-2015 Strategic Plan.
Bartram’s Garden is a world treasure and a must-see for curious audiences of all ages.
A unique cultural landscape on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Bartram’s Garden is best known as the home, farm, and garden of John Bartram, America’s first naturalist botanist and plant explorer. John Bartram, inspired by nature and the love of plants, dedicated his life to the better understanding of the world around him and shared his knowledge with his neighbors and friends as well as an international community of scientists, botanists, and curious plant collectors. The Bartram family cultivated the garden and farmlands, establishing one of the country’s first and largest commercial nurseries by 1850. In the years that followed, an extraordinary chain of stewardship grew and continues today in a partnership between the John Bartram Association and the City of Philadelphia. The preservation of the Garden is the primary mission of its stewards, and through the years, important steps have been taken to protect the historic buildings and enhance the Bartram’s singular garden for the benefit of future generations.
In 2008, the Board of the John Bartram Association undertook a strategic planning process based on the Drucker Organizational Self Assessment Method. This pioneering process invites nonprofits to “achieve a bottom line of changing lives and demonstrating organizational commitment and competence in a highly demanding and challenging environment.” The process, which is mostly outward looking, was informed by input from the community, stakeholders, and public and private partners.
The end result was a new vision for Bartram’s Garden to lead the organization into a sustainable future. Transitioning away from a passive “show and tell” site, the revitalized Garden is pictured as a place for active community use and enjoyment.
To achieve our compelling and dynamic vision by 2018, the organization has established very specific goals and objectives. We began by identifying priorities for Phase One (2009 – 2013) implementation:
- Preserve, restore, and exhibit Bartram’s Garden’s living and historic collections, botanic treasures, historic structures, and the Bartram Archives.
- Serve as a model for environmentally responsible practices, work in partnership for revitalization of the Schuylkill Riverfront, and work with the City to implement the goals of the Open Space Plan 2028 to make Philadelphia a vibrant urban green city.
- Provide enriching experiences that engage diverse audiences and foster care of the natural world through full and creative use of Bartram’s Garden’s resources.
- Increase visitation and achieve recognition as the preeminent American historic garden and a world-class cultural, heritage and urban green space destination.
- Assure Bartram’s Garden’s future through effective fund development, volunteer engagement, and exemplary governance and management of its assets.
We are poised to take significant leaps with the opportunities that surround us. In the next three years we are well positioned to convey the ‘sense of place’ that is Bartram’s Garden, deliver on the ‘promise’ of sharing and communicating the Bartram’s legacy, advancing entrepreneurial opportunities, and establishing the garden as a place for civic engagement, learning and stewardship. Our challenges of recognition, access, visitor engagement, and achieving high standards of stewardship need to be addressed as we take advantage of the opportunities that surround us.
Throughout the development of the following 3-year plan to advance the Garden, we remain guided by the Mission and Vision.
The mission of the John Bartram Association is to protect and enhance the landmark Bartram’s Garden and House, advance the Bartram legacy of discovery, gardening and art, and inspire audiences of all ages to care for the natural world.
Vision 2018: Aspirations for Bartram’s Garden
Approaching the 125th anniversary of its founding, the Association aspires to a strategic vision for Bartram’s Garden as a thriving global community of learning and enjoyment. People young and old will come to explore, discover and find powerful connections with nature. The 45 acre historic landscape will be alive with activity. Revived riverfront trails, a native plant nursery, orchards and ongoing archaeological excavations will be used daily by students, families, neighbors, tourists, gardeners, scholars and recreationalists.
Bartram’s Garden will remain as a welcoming presence in an ever-changing environment; reminding us how nature shapes the world we live in. By boat, trolley, bus, car, bike – or through the web site, publications, volunteering and working, there will be many ways to reach and experience Bartram’s Garden. A national and international network of Bartram resources will provide a powerful resource for ongoing study. Neighbors, visitors, students and family descendants will be equally invited to share and record their personal and professional discoveries in a global Bartram web site. Artists will create unique opportunities to advance the Bartram legacy through exhibits, performances, events and celebrations. Regional and national trail systems will reach Bartram’s Garden, linking the site to the riverfront, the community and the city.
Based on the site’s 3000 years of known history, and the importance of the Bartrams’ work as America’s first botanists, noted explorers, authors, artists and naturalists, Bartram’s Garden will seek designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through increased public and private support, Bartram’s Garden will serve as a focal point for community transformation through promotion of green practices, hosting innovative exhibits and creating partnerships. As a result, people from all walks of life will share a common mission to protect and enhance the rich history and cultural significance of the Garden and its enduring role in changing lives.