Garden of Ideas, a 12-acre nonprofit educational garden and retail outlet in Ridgefield, has announced that it is shutting down after failing to meet its fundraising goals.
Originally created as a free attraction on family property owned by landscaper Joe Keller, the venue combined ornamental, vegetable and woodland gardens along with an arboretum and a collection of whimsical statues. A small retail shop at the location sold small garden sculptures during the year and plants, eggs and vegetables on a seasonal basis. Garden of Ideas also hosted the Simpaug Farm Community-Supported Agriculture program at its farmstand.
In announcing the closing on Facebook, Keller said the fundraising push to keep the venue operational fell far short of its target.
“Sad facts: our capital campaign was a failure – we needed 1,600 people to pledge $600 and only received 130 pledges,” he wrote. “All money sent in to honor the first year of pledges will be returned.”
Keller added that he is now looking at “tens of thousands of dollars in ash tree removal” and bemoaned the impact of property taxes on the venue’s financial health.
“As the Garden expands and improves, maintenance costs keep rising,” he wrote. “Charging admissions was a great idea – wish I had thought of it 10 years ago. Finally, our family members are reaching points in our life when decisions requiring money will have to be made. Our capital is locked up in the properties – a successful capital campaign would have unlocked it. I will be writing more about this on our Facebook page soon.”