On March 24, 2021 The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve observed ten years as a world-class botanic garden. To commemorate the anniversary an Open House and cocktail reception were held at the Preserve where visitors, staff and supporters could safely gather to celebrate. In a brief video presentation the visionary team of founder Shelby White, BNT Executive Director Eric Carey and botanist Dr. Ethan Freid shared their sentiments on the successes of the past ten years. Other friends and conservation partners brought virtual remarks and the affair was capped off with a toast and cutting of the anniversary cake.
The Levy Preserve is, indeed, a living part of Bahamian history. It is the fulfillment of the vision of Shelby and her husband Leon Levy, who both loved the natural environment and way of life on Eleuthera. After Leon’s passing in 2003, Shelby wanted to honour her husband and his interest in the preservation of the local bush medicine culture among Eleutherans. As such, through funding from the Leon Levy Foundation, the Preserve was created.
The Preserve spans twenty-five plus acres and serves as a showcase for traditional bush medicine; a facility for the propagation of indigenous plants and trees; and an educational center focusing on the importance of native vegetation to the biodiversity of The Bahamas.
The Preserve offers visitors the opportunity to explore trails through wetlands and native coppice, where native orchids and broad leafed hardwoods can be viewed in their natural habitat. Special areas highlight medicinal plants, that are used in traditional Bahamian “bush medicine “ and plants that are part of our edible history providing a unique insight into Bahamian culture.
In April 2019, the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve became the first institution in The Bahamas to be designated as an accredited Botanic Garden by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. This tier of accreditation recognizes institutions for their achievements in plant conservation. To receive this distinguished designation, a botanic garden must have documented collections, public access, an education program, research capacity, and a long-term strategic plan, among other things.
Click HERE to view the anniversary video.