BAYarts' gardens are a westside destination
Today, in the time of shutdowns, BAYarts' campus has even more meaning and value to the community, providing serene open spaces within its many garden "rooms" to safely social distance, practice yoga or just find a few moments of solitude. Although it may seem like fairies come in the night to tend the gardens, in reality, a devoted and skilled team of volunteers meet weekly to weed, water, plant and prune – all with the kind of joy and community that makes BAYarts unique.
A little history: when BAYarts began to renovate the vast campus spaces for public use back in 2006, it was under the guidance of Bay Village resident Julia Shutt. Julia got her first design clients years before at a Baycrafters fair and has since been devoted to giving back to the community that helped launch her career. With her partner, Byron, their company Maple Leaf Landscaping designed and installed the foundation of the ever-evolving landscape in conjunction with Cleveland Metroparks' sidewalk and lighting improvements and the Fuller House renovation.
Plant material has been generously donated by area businesses in a showcase of their generosity and community spirit. This year BAYarts collaborated with Praxis Fiber Arts Center in the Waterloo Arts District, growing indigo plants that will be harvested and used for dying workshops in the fall. It takes a village indeed!
Since then, preserving BAYarts' gardens has been a labor of love for dozens of volunteers and BAYarts staff, who maintain and enhance the natural beauty of the park campus. Over the years, as the gardens mature, sculptures have been installed and benches lovingly renovated. Not only does the campus serve as a perfect place for small groups (weddings and other large events will resume in 2021) but there are way too many photo ops to count including a community mural that will be installed on the west side of the playhouse this month, the site of a new cutting garden.
"We realize what a unique gift it is to be located here in the park," says BAYarts board member and garden volunteer Andrea Richards. "It's a privilege to serve the community this way, creating and preserving a wonderful, welcoming venue everyone can enjoy."
BAYarts is a community supported non-profit in Cleveland Metroparks' Huntington Reservation. Cleveland Metroparks mandates social distancing per CDC guidelines; masks are mandatory in all buildings. To learn more about BAYarts and the history of the campus, visit www.bayarts.net/about.
Nancy Heaton is Executive Director at BAYarts