Ponds supporting the past

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A New York landscaping company organized a tour of sustainable water gardens to raise money for a local museum.

January 18, 2013
Lawn & Landscape

Saratoga Springs, N.Y. – One landscaping company turned sustainable ponds into a chance to make some money for a local museum.

Chip’s Landscaping in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., hosted a self-guided Saratoga County Water Garden Tour in September with 100 percent of all ticket sales benefitting Brookside Museum, home of the Saratoga County Historical Museum in Ballston Spa, N.Y. The tour received 80 participants and raised more than $900 for the museum.

“We selected the Brookside Museum, home of the Saratoga Historical Society, as the beneficiary of the tour due to its longstanding mission to preserve and promote Saratoga County History and their tireless work in children’s education,” said Sueann DuBois, who co-owns Chip’s Landscaping with her husband, Chip. “We felt they too shared a sustainable business practice. And it is no secret that these nonprofit institutions are losing tremendous amounts of funding and support each year in today’s economy.”

Chip’s and Brookside partnered in ticket distribution, marketing and profit raising efforts. Both organizations distributed information about the event to customers, persons of interest, museum membership, radio public service announcements and posting at local businesses for event advertising.

The tour traveled around downtown Saratoga Springs, ending in Greenfield with a complimentary “after tour” barbeque onsite at Chip’s Landscaping. The event consisted of a total of six water gardens, both privately and publicly owned, and built by Chip’s, within a 15-mile radius. This year’s garden sites boasted pondless waterfalls, spillways, small, medium and large sized ponds and even a “swimmable” family pond.

“The tour sites were exclusively water gardens we have constructed over the years,” she said. “Some we do maintenance on throughout the season. Some we have an ongoing a relationship with the customer but do not necessarily provide services after the install.

“We selected a variety of features to highlight the versatility and interest of water gardens. Our sites boasted pondless waterfalls, large and small; ponds small, medium and large; family “swimmable,” fountain-like features; and rainwater-harvesting elements. The hosts were residential backyards, senior community memorial gardens, and a public display often overlooked at the National Museum of Dance.” 

Since Chip’s is a “mom and pop” business and doing an event like this for the first time, according to Dubois, the company had to start planning about three months ahead of time, and relied on Brookside Museum for help as well.

“The partnership with the Brookside Museum was fantastic as they had considerable experience in event planning,” she said. “Their experiences allowed us ease in securing site volunteers, ticket sales venues and logistical recommendations. We as the landscaping company kept our efforts in site selection, assuring sites were well prepped for the day of tour, and hosting the social barbecue at the end of the tour.”

Dubois said a landscaping company who wants to start a charity tour should decide what their mission is for the event.

“If you wish to highlight a specific element or specialty of your business, make sure you are doing that,” she said. “Keep consistent with your business branding. Choose a nonprofit partner/beneficiary for the event whose values and character align with your business.

“Dive into that new community partnership. But, most importantly, enjoy the day. Meet and greet folks and share your passion. It will inevitably be the most rewarding thing you do in your business all year.”

Dubois said she had no idea what to expect, but was very pleased with the turnout, and planning for next year has already started.

Photos by Mark Bernard and Chip’s Landscaping