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About The Garden

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The Garden’s property overlaps what was once an Amerindian settlement dating back to c.100 A.D.

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The St. George Village Botanical Garden is home to over 1,000 plants and trees spanning 16 acres. The land the garden sits on is characteristic of St. Croix’s dynamic history and built heritage, dating from early indigenous history, through the colonial era, to the present day. We invite visitors to enjoy this space and take the opportunity to learn about this history through the lens of native and pan-tropical flora.  

 

The garden highlights and interprets the cultural and historical significance plants have played as a source of food, medicine, fibers, dyes, and building materials throughout the Caribbean.

Our History

From 500 BC

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The First People

Archaeological evidence indicates the first evidence of human presence in the Caribbean around 6000 BCE though humans did not permanently settle on St. Croix until the turn of the first millennium. There were three main periods of indigenous settlement on St. Croix: the Igneri/Arawak peoples (1-700 C.E.), the Taino (700-1425 C.E.), and the Kalinago (1425- ).

 

 

 A Significant Indigenous Settlement

The botanical garden grounds were once a significant indigenous settlement dating to the turn of the first millennium. Mint Gut, located within the garden grounds, was a navigable river in the pre-colonial era, making it an attractive location for settlement. St. Croix was known to the Taino as “Ay ay,” meaning water or river, because of its vast water reserves. Through local efforts to protect and enhance biodiversity, including initiatives put forth by the St. George Village Botanical Garden, the hope is that one day we will be able to restore our natural watersheds.

The Colonial Era

Denmark purchased St. Croix from the French in 1733. By 1753, the island had been divided into 375 plantations of 150 to 300 acres. These plantations sought to produce enough sugarcane to meet the rising demand for rum and sugar in Europe. Estate St. George was among the earliest sugar plantations on the island, beginning operations in the 1750s. 

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The First Laborers On Record
1749

The sugar economy in St. Croix and elsewhere in the Caribbean depended on cheap and exploitative labor practices. The first laborers on record at Estate St. George in 1749 were 23 enslaved Africans brought to the island via the Middle Passage. By 1824, the enslaved workforce at Estate St. George had increased to 187 people. The ruins found across the garden are the material remnants of the sugar era and include the living quarters of the enslaved, which today house the garden’s historical museum and library.  

 

Recognizing The Significant Role of Enslaved Africans

The St. George Village Botanical Garden recognizes the significant role enslaved Africans and their descendants played in St. Croix’s history. Be sure to visit the 1000 Orchid Memorial Garden, which honors their lives and memory.

Estate St. George was one of the plantations burned during the historic 1878 Fireburn. As a result of the Fireburn and subsequent labor reforms, the profitability of sugar fell. Many plantations, including St. George, began to produce other commodities, such as cotton. In 1916, the sugar factory at St. George closed, and the canefields transitioned into pastoral land. 

 

By the early 1970s, much of the land had fallen into disuse; dense tropical vegetation began to reclaim much of the property and buildings. In the 1970s, the Moon and deChabert families donated the land to the St. Croix Garden Club to establish the St. George Botanical Garden.

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Preservation

Learn about our Herbarium, Botanical Heritage, Museum and Seed Bank

Our Board Members & Staff

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Susan Austin Kraeger

Board Chair

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Sarah C. Brady

Executive Director

Board Members

Positive T.A. Nelson

Vice President

Sanni Craft

Board Member

Lisa Harris-Moorhead

Board Member

Perry Sheraw

Board Member

Theresa Collingwood

Treasurer

Josh Greenberg

Board Member

Angie Ortiz

Board Member

Pardis Zahedi

Board Member

Joan Kupfer

Secretary

Steve Grimes

Board Member

Sandy Radczenko

Board Member

Staff Members

Isidor Ruderfer

Director of Horticulture and Facilities

Deva Pullen

Nursery Manager

Nicole Chin

Gift Shop Manager

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