East Ridge at Cutler Bay is the first retirement community to join Fairchild Garden’s Million Orchid project.
Installation of 250 orchids was undertaken in June by Fairchild Garden’s staff and volunteers along with East Ridge maintenance techs and landscapers. Residents assisted from the community’s Beautification Committee while others provided enthusiastic support.
The effort to bring the orchids to East Ridge has been the passionate project of resident Nancy Fehr who has coordinated the efforts on behalf of the community’s Town Hall and East Ridge management when the program was initiated by Fairchild three years ago.
Fairchild Garden’s goal is return orchids to South Florida. The project aims at putting one million orchids into urban landscapes and to have the first generation of re-established orchids blooming throughout South Florida within five years. In 2016 the Million Orchid Project placed 150,000 plants in Miami Dade County. Most recently their efforts extended to Palm Beach County where they installed orchids at a residential community.
Jason Downing, Ph.D., Orchid Biologist of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and head of the project was on hand for the installation and explained to the residents how the endangered orchids are attached and about the importance of this undertaking. “Most orchids live at least 100 years. Once they mature, they will create seeds, and was they are planted near tropical hardwoods; more orchids will grow.”
At East Ridge the species that were installed were all threatened native orchids species including Florida Butterfly (Encyclia Tameness, Dancing Lady (Indicium ensatum) and Cowhorn (Cyrtopodium punctatum). The seedlings range from four inches to one foot.