New Garden Beautifies Breast Cancer Resource Center at D&R Greenway’s Conservation Campus

Cass Macdonald, Ruta Smithson and (far right) Ashley Formento, Contemporary Garden Club of Princeton, with (third right) Linda Mead, D&R Greenway Land Trust, and Paula Flory and Judy Hutton, YWCA Breast Cancer Resource Center

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are dancing outside D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center.

“I love coming here, it’s so tranquil,” says Contemporary Garden Club member, Cass Macdonald.

Such tranquility and native pollinators now hover over the YWCA Princeton Breast Cancer Resource Center’s (BCRC) new home on D&R Greenway’s Conservation Campus, thanks to the Contemporary Garden Club of Princeton. A new sign, amid the plantings, heralds the presence of the BCRC and its mission of healing, as well as the partnership with D&R Greenway, which is leasing the space to the BCRC.

The sign and garden contributes to the overall Conservation Campus signage now in place, from the entrance on Rosedale Road to the Johnson Education Center (JEC).

“The campus vision celebrates conservation in a holistic way, bringing together place and spirit in a cohesive whole,” said D&R Greenway President & CEO Linda Mead. “Conservation is not just about land, it is about creating places to conserve our physical health and spiritual well-being. The BCRC fits right in to that ethos. Here on our Conservation Campus, the BCRC provides programs that support breast cancer patients, including the opportunity to enjoy the healing effects of nature and the outdoors. From the beginning, we envisioned the JEC and adjacent land as a place where we could inspire a conservation ethic in as many ways as we could think of.”

The Contemporary Garden Club approached the landscaping as an annual community project. Using native plants and flowers in ground, supplemented with annuals and herbs in raised garden beds, volunteers created tranquil gardens around the BCRC entrance and surroundings. Club volunteers planned the gardens with the help of D&R Greenway Native Plant Manager Emily Blackman and members of the BCRC. Some of the native plants used were big blue stem, Christmas ferns, summer hill blue leaf rhododendron, butterfly milkweed, bee balm and wild pink.

“This joint venture was inspired by the desire to support women journeying through the various stages of breast cancer by providing the soothing beauty of natural plants in gardens,” said Macdonald who, along with CGC President-Elect Ashley Formento, initiated the idea. “We were both aware there was most likely not a person in the club who had not been personally touched in some way by this illness.”

The raised garden beds were designed to allow women recovering from surgery to participate without having to get down on the ground.

“The BCRC presence on D&R Greenway’s Conservation Campus has been a dream come true,” said BCRC Director Paula Flory. “The vision I have continues to come to fruition with each woman who finds her way to us and, in so doing, finds a pathway to hope. The outdoor gardens are spectacular and are so much a part of this exceptional healing environment we continue to create. There has not been one person who has visited our Clubhouse who has not commented on the beauty of our gardens.”

“The Contemporary Garden Club is 55 years old,” said Club President Liza Morehouse. “We have a long history of community projects where members provide their interest, expertise and hands-in-the-dirt investment to beautify and enhance the community landscape. The collaboration between D&R Greenway and the staff and volunteers at BCRC was a wonderfully rewarding experience.”

For more than 40 years, the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) has been providing programs to help women and families through the entire breast cancer journey, from diagnosis through treatment, recovery and survivorship. Widely recognized as the leading breast cancer support facility in the region, the BCRC offers a range of programs and services. Many of the YWCA Princeton Breast Cancer Resource Center staff, support group facilitators and outreach presenters are breast cancer survivors themselves. The Center is open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and welcomes new members and visitors.

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