North American Friendship Garden Celebrates Collaboration and Champions Biodiversity

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Rendering of the North American Friendship Garden at Confluence Park

An international collaboration is under development at Confluence Park! The North American Friendship Garden is a collaborative effort by the Consulate of Canada in Texas and the Consulate of Mexico in San Antonio together with the City of San Antonio, San Antonio River Authority (River Authority), and San Antonio River Foundation (River Foundation). Very soon, the public will have the opportunity to visit the park to enjoy the garden and learn about the significance this trilateral collaborative effort.

Read along to learn more about how this all came together and be among the first to know of the garden features and educational opportunities!

Background and Significance

Map showing the migration path of the Monarch butterfly

In 2015, with support from the River Authority and other community organizations, the city signed the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, making San Antonio the first city in the country to become a Monarch Champion in the national campaign to encourage mayors and local governments to increase Monarch butterfly and pollinator habitat. Building upon the community’s national Monarch Champion recognition, the idea for the North American Friendship Garden started taking place following the UNESCO designation of San Antonio as a Creative City of Gastronomy as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. The City of San Antonio’s World Heritage Office and Office of Global Engagement approached the River Authority about developing a pollinator garden given pollinators play an important role in the food that we consume and the San Antonio River serves as a corridor for pollinators like the Monarch Butterfly. The River Authority welcomed the opportunity to install and maintain a new pollinator garden at Confluence Park and by the fall of 2020, the Consulate of Canada in Texas and the Consulate of Mexico in San Antonio were committed to providing funding support to pay for the installation of the new pollinator garden.

The North American Friendship Garden is in alignment with several international Sustainable Development Goals and it provides a sanctuary for Monarch Butterflies during their international migration, as well as crucial habitat for myriad other pollinators and migratory species. This trilateral effort symbolizes the close ties between the peoples of Canada, Mexico, and the San Antonio community. As the Monarch Butterfly and other migrating species travel between Canada, Mexico, and San Antonio, the North American Friendship Garden reminds visitors that through respect, dialogue, and a true spirit of collaboration, all communities can be nurtured and thrive.

Garden Features and Education Opportunities

The North American Friendship Garden is located within Confluence Park, an award-winning environmental education park along the banks of the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Walk. The garden area is approximately 2,500 square feet and includes native grasses and wildflowers such as Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower, Fragrant Mist Flower, Lance-leaf Coreopsis, Brazos Penstomen, as well as native trees and shrubs like the Anacacho Orchid Tree, Texas Lantana, Mexican Plum, Salvia greggii and Chile pequin. The River Foundation raised funds to support the installation of extra artistic features in the pollinator garden adding locations for thoughtful contemplation and environmental education, including art benches created by San Antonio artist Gary Sweeny and a bug hotel. Artistic amenities in the garden were made possible through generous support from Frost Bank, Kirti and Dr. Mahendra Patel, the San Antonio-Mexico Friendship Council, and the City of San Antonio:  World Heritage Office, Department of Arts & Culture, Economic Development Department, Global Engagement Office.

The River Authority’s Education and Engagement team is working on educational programming that will incorporate this pollinator garden as part of their ongoing efforts at Confluence Park. The River Foundation is also working with external partners to host future events at Confluence Park that help highlight the important role pollinators play in our environment. It was recently announced that the annual Monarch Butterfly & Pollinator Festival, an event supported by the River Foundation and River Authority, will now take place at Confluence Park starting October 2021.

The recent rain our area has been receiving has made scheduling the grand opening of the North American Friendship Garden a challenge. Please follow the River Authority’s social media channels for announcements about the opening of the pollinator garden. And if you want to learn more the North American Friendship Garden, please visit the River Foundation’s website where you’ll find information that’s also available in French and in Spanish!

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