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The Mission of the Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation is to enhance the beauty and experience of Lakes Park. 


A Tribute ~ In Loving Memory of Joan Black 

March, 2021


On behalf of the original Steering Committee of the Lakes Park Community Garden, as a long-time gardener and from my own heart honoring our friendship forged in the Garden, I’d like to offer this Tribute in loving memory of our fellow gardener, Joan Black. After a brave battle with cancer, Joan passed away peacefully in the afternoon of March 16th. 


As I have been reflecting back, it’s difficult to ‘count’ Joan’s contributions to the Community Garden and to those of us in our Garden Community who worked alongside her and became her friends. She worked in and for the Garden so diligently, so consistently and so graciously over the past decade. I am pretty sure at one time or another, she filled every single essential role we had in garden leadership, organizing, teaching, fund-raising and overall management.


It all began in April of 2010, at the first public gathering for the Community Garden, when Joan stepped up and volunteered to help organize the Garden. In response to a request from Roy Beckford, our IFES extension agent at the time, I had just offered to take on the role of Garden Coordinator. Having worked as a strategic planner and community builder in other contexts, I knew we’d need a team right from the start and my first words to the rest of those gathered were, “This is definitely going to be a group effort - who’d like to help?!” 

Joan was one of the first Lakes Park gardeners and Garden volunteers

 - and the rest is history! 

As one of our original Steering Committee members, Joan pitched right in and over the years, she clocked several thousand volunteer hours helping to design and implement the garden’s strategic plans. She coordinated and led monthly educational Gatherings and occasional field trips, gardener registration, annual meetings and reviews, and regular Garden functions including new gardener orientations, setting up our original composting process and food bank donations. For several years, Joan headed up volunteer oversight, working especially hard with FGCU students fulfilling their community service requirement. Using her many creative and artistic skills, Joan contributed to Garden newsletters and became our Garden Archivist, producing several beautiful albums documenting Garden history and ‘what was growing’ at any given time. She also enthusiastically represented the Garden in wider community events including weekly Farmer’s Market participation, autumn Scarecrows in the Park, spring National Public Parks Day and end of June, Taste of Lee Tropical Fruit Fair. In large part because of Joan’s input, the Lakes Park Community Garden is both a sustainable and a magical place for planting, learning, nurturing and growing - food, flowers, memories, green spaces, friendships and great vibes!


As one of the few remaining charter members of the Garden and over the years, Joan became an expert gardener. Her ‘bed’ was consistently one of the best in the Garden, both for production and for beauty. She was constantly researching, experimenting, learning and delighting in new plants, different techniques and arrangements, delicious recipes. Along with the bees, she loved her tiny roses and sweet almond bush blossoms. And she nurtured her milkweed plants which hosted generations of monarch butterflies. To her harvested tomatoes, carrots and eggplants, Joan added savory Costa Rican oregano, parsley, rosemary, basil, lemon grass and garlic chives.


Alongside her expertise as a gardener, many will attest to Joan’s gentle spirit, her kind nature, her fierce loyalty, her generosity, her endless patience and her contagious good humor. And, in addition to this awesome Community Garden, we the gardeners ‘cultivated’ a Garden Community of friendships, which are so very deeply special. Joan will always remain a beloved member of this Community and her legacy will live on - in our hearts and through the Garden.


Dear Joan, You will be greatly missed and your Garden Legacy will be deeply cherished.

Koi Pond Bridge Renovations


The small bridge that goes over the pond in the back of the Fragrance Garden was in need of repair. No one could remember when it was first build. It is a very popular photo op spot for visitors. I recently met a couple who got engaged on that bridge. Over the years the bridge as begun to shows signs of age and was in need of a full overhaul. Dan Flavin, a volunteer in the gardens offered to spear head this project with help from Norm Bazinet and Mike Pacitto and other volunteers along the way. The new bridge will be structurally sound and should last for many years of picture taking in the gardens. The Lakes Enrichment Foundation has provided all the materials.

Next month’s newsletter will show the finished bridge, but feel free to walk in the gardens to view the progress.

EZ Rider Tours

We are thrilled to announce that the EZ Rider Tours are once again running on a limited basis depending on driver availability. We ask that riders wear masks unless fully vaccinated. The tour size will be limited to four. For reservations call Mary Ellen at 239-533-7578.

We believe everyone should be able to enjoy Lakes Park, seeing its natural beauty and wildlife first hand. That’s why we offer courtesy in park transportation. Park visitors can reserve a seat on the E.Z. Rider, a six-passenger golf cart provided by the Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation. Driven by a Lee County Parks & Recreation certified Volunteer Guide, E.Z. Rider tours span 1 to 1 1/2 hours with commentary that can be customized for those with a particular interest in the gardens or bird viewing. Now everyone can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Lakes Park.


Rules of Transport

• Passengers ages 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

• Guests who require physical assistance must be accompanied by a caregiver.

Virtual 5K “FUN” Run/Walk

We are so excited how well attended the Virtual 5K Run was during the week of March 27-April 3. The response and excitement of all our participants has been overwhelming. A huge thank you goes out to all our wonderful sponsors, Amavita Senior living, Riva Del Lago, Harris Dermatology, Sarah Selfridge; Schooner Bay Realty and Bill Valenti, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley .....who all helped with our race. 
We, the Foundation, were able to establish a virtual 5K race that we think will only grow each year. Given that this is our first year and we didn’t have any history in the marketplace, we are thrilled that almost 80 runners and walkers signed up to help support our beautiful park.

Have you checked out the Bicycle Station?


Have you ever arrived at Lakes Park with your bicycles ready to take a leisurely ride around the park only to find that your handlebars need adjusting or your tires need some air? 

Well you won’t need to turn around and leave… check out the bicycle fix it station located adjacent to the Community Garden. It has an assortment of tools and a bicycle tire pump you may use for these minor repairs. Enjoy your ride here at Lakes and remember to give pedestrians space and to make an audible sound when passing them.  You can take a break and walk through our wonderful Fragrance Garden or sit on one of the many park benches located throughout the park. 

Instructional Classes a Big Hit!!!

Both of our latest classes  "The Secrets of Making Perfect Limoncello and other Liquores” and “The Secrets of Growing Beautiful Orchids” held at the Amavida Facility located at 7650 Gladiolus Dr, Fort Myers, FL 33908 were a complete success. All seats for both classes were filled and the participants were treated to beautiful flowers and delicious refreshments. Stay tuned for more classes in the coming months.


The weekly Farmers Market provided by Local Roots at Lee County’s Lakes Regional Park, 7300 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday continuing through April 27th, 2021. The market will operate in “grab and go” style, practicing safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Birdhouses in the Children's Garden
by Debi Brown

Ray and I have enjoyed making custom birdhouses to place around our yard since moving to Fort Myers in 2012.  We delight in the variety of birds that visit our feeders such as cardinals, blue jays, doves, finches, wood peckers, black birds and occasional hawk.  However, we are still patiently awaiting our first resident in the bird houses. In the mean time, most of our little houses have been taken over by lizards, geckos and frogs for their own protection. It shocked me the first time that one popped out and now I enjoy seeing the little guys in my gardens.
Ray uses mostly pine wood or leftover scraps to piece together sturdy wooden frames and cuts front holes around two inches.  He finds inspiration from creating his own little birdhouse and each one is different.  Once the construction is done, I start to visualize the artwork and then name each house once completed.  It takes several days to paint as I surround myself with the beauty of our backyard and find inspiration from inside from places we have visited in the past. Ray then attaches the hardware to hang or post to place in the ground.  
I truly enjoy volunteering at LakesPark in the Botanical Gardens.  So, I offered to donate a few to the Childrens Garden. They were accepted with gratitude and appreciation and we are honored that they display them for all to see in the park.  When visiting the park look for the three on display, Blue Bird of Paradise”, Sunflowers”, and DownUnder”.   And soon to exhibit is BeHappy”.
Here is our newly installed "Iron Ranger" which gives us the ability to collect donations from all of our wonderful supporters 365 days a year. Added to our list of projects will be the beautification of the surrounding area. 
Thanks to a generous grant from Lee County’s Visitor & Convention Bureau, Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation has funds to create a series of  videos promoting Lakes Park. On a sunny Saturday recently, videographers were shooting scenes of all the things individuals and families can do in our favorite park. When this spot starts running it will introduce this “Hidden Piece of Paradise” to so many who’ve never discovered it, both in Lee County and beyond. Look for it on your local channels.

Right now, our biggest need is having enough help to keep the Botanic Garden watered, trimmed and tidy. Volunteers meet to work their magic in the gardens on Monday and Thursday mornings from 7:00 - 10:00 AM, before the heat of the day sets in. Registered Lee County Volunteers,  go to the end of parking lot 3 and find the path that leads up along the left side of the Community Garden. Keep following until you get to the Rose Garden gazebo - you'll find fellow volunteers at the sheds just beyond. 

Bench Dedication Program  
The bench catalog, pricing, terms and conditions, availability, etc. can be found
by visiting our Bench Dedication landing page 

Pave the Park - Buy a Brick! 
Bricks are a very popular way to support the park.   Three locations to choose from! Find out  more
by visiting our Pave the Park page. 

Donate through the PayPal Giving Fund 
PayPal has a special program - no one gets charged any credit card merchant fees!
Click this link to find out how quick and easy it is to  donate through the PayPal Giving Fund

Interested in the Community Garden? 
We get many requests for a bed in the Community Garden. Whenever a bed becomes available, we hold  an "email lottery" to engage a new Community Garden member.  Get details and put your name on the Community Garden Notifications List -
click here to find out more. 

Join the Board of Directors or the Advisory Board 

We're looking to build out our Board of Directors and Advisory Board with community leaders who love Lakes Park and are willing to tap their personal and professional networks as well as their own skills, knowledge, and wisdom to support the Foundation in achieving its mission - Enhancing the Beauty and Experience of Lakes Park.  CONTACT US at if  you are interested in attending one of our Board meetings to see if this is the right mission for you. 
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