Achieve Miss Sims' Legacy Wish

Hi, I am the caretaker and director of Miss Sim's Garden Botanical Park. The park is Catherine Anville Sims' legacy gift to the City of Homewood, for the community she loved and all who would visit her garden in perpetuity. Let me tell you about this unique space and why your donation is so important.

Miss Sims' Garden is tucked away in the mixed residential and commercial Edgewood Neighborhood of Homewood, Alabama. Homewood is one of the most walkable cities in the USA, spanning about eight square miles, and is home to over 26,000 residents. Within the city, Miss Sims' Garden is uniquely positioned in the Edgewood Urban Renewal District, a pedestrian-oriented zoning district featuring residential, commercial and institutional uses. It is the closest green space to several low-income, multifamily dwellings, yet surrounded by high-income, high-density, single-family homes. It is within walking distance of two public schools and businesses, including shops, restaurants, entertainment and services.

Miss Sims' loved to entertain and pass along her love for and knowledge of gardening. Her pass-along spirit so inspired Steve Bender, aka Grumpy Gardener, from Southern Living Magazine to write an article on her in the early 1990s that became the magazine's most popular article of that series. Catherine loved teaching anyone who would listen, especially children, to appreciate the smallest detail of every flower; that good soil was like black gold; and just how and when to plant anything. She also cultivated her love of community, sense of charity and civic engagement in those she encountered, even successfully encouraging and helping a few individuals to run for municipal office. She was honored as Homewood Citizen of the Year in 2002-2003 for her civic engagements and support of various non-profits, clubs and societies. It is in this same spirit that Miss Sims' Garden is managed today.

The Miss Sims' Garden Foundation (a 501(c)3), the City of Homewood and I request your donation to help us reimagine Miss Sims' Garden, as more than a botanical park. Miss Sims' envisioned a teaching garden, and we do too. We believe we can make this the premier example of suburban-urban garden design. We will incorporate ecological and sustainability principles in home gardening for nature with reduced water usage and install best-practice stormwater management solutions which will be showcased by the City's Building Engineering and Zoning officials as the example to follow. We will use solar-powered energy solutions to offset energy consumption on site, including a small greenhouse built with window-like solar voltaic panels.

Several years have gone into creating this plan. During that time, two things happened. First, high-density redevelopment on all sides of Miss Sim's garden has resulted in the conversion of four small 1920s cottages surrounded by mature trees and large yards to nine multistory homes with a fraction of the natural ground surface run-off. The increase in stormwater alone has destroyed the garden paths and caused flooding in the basement of the historic home. Secondly, at the same time, we have seen an over 1,000% increase in visitation and the use of the garden for special events, with the majority of visitors being families and the majority of events centered on children, families, youth and school groups. The drastic increase in visitation affirms that Miss Sim's legacy gift is not only serving the purpose she imagined but filling a need for shaded, green space in an increasingly urbanized environment. The juxtaposition of increasing pressure from development and visitors creates a sense of urgency to complete the landscaping plans and ensure Miss Sims' legacy remains relevant today and tomorrow.

Additional details:

The garden is spread across five lots (each one 50' wide and 100' long.

Notable garden features include a Grow More, Give More Garden of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service Home Garden Program; the only Ozone Garden in Alabama, installed by Izzie Dettling for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project; a 150-foot long hidden pictures mural painted by Shawn Fitzwater (in-progress); and a 20 foot tall fairytale playhouse (in progress) that will become part of a new “Kindergarden” feature.

Events in the garden include birthday parties; baby showers; receptions; garden club meetings; flower arranging classes; educational talks; demonstrations; summer movies in the garden, jazz and coffee in the garden, cocktails in the garden, tea parties; small weddings and receptions.

Annual fundraisers and sponsorship opportunities include a seven-week Pumpkin and Mum Sale Fundraiser (Sept-Oct.), up to 200 Santa Photo Sessions (Nov-Dec), Garden Gallop and Garden Party (May). We also host an annual Kids Market (June) that provides an opportunity to support and encourage entrepreneurship in children.


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Fundraising team: Miss Sims' Garden Foundation (5)

Amy Milam Weis
Raised $170,027 from 6 donations
Birmingham, AL
Miss Sims Garden Foundation
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
Brandy Johnson
Team member
David Lorberbaum
Team member
Lindsay Hugghins
Team member
Stacey Morales
Team member

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