$15 million planned for improvements at Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanic Gardens

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 7:35 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - A $15 million quality of place project is expected to break ground next spring in Elkhart.

Plans to expand Wellfield Botanic Gardens are in line to receive a $1.2 million READI grant from the State of Indiana.

A lot of things are growing at Wellfield besides plants. The list includes growing attendance and a growing need to expand.

Wellfield Botanic Gardens is a piece of paradise that sits inside the city limits between the Indiana Toll Road and the downtown. There are more than 20 themed gardens on display.

“There are about 18-acres of surface water on the property, so that’s what makes the wellfield a pretty special place. We get a lot of reflective light and beautiful reflections of anything that we have on the property,” said Executive Director Eric Garton.

Upon further reflection, it was decided that what the place really needs is asphalt, or something like that.

“What you can see that we’re standing in right now is a parking lot that has fewer than 20 parking spaces in it, and if you’ve ever been to an event at wellfield, like Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights, you know that we really need parking,” Garton added.

Last year, the Holiday Lights event brought in 20,000 visitors. That’s a 250-percent increase over the past five years.

If that many people are willing to come to a garden in November and December, maybe the construction of a 12,000 square foot visitors center will keep them coming during the rest of the winter months.

“Having a little grab and go café, having meeting spaces where outside groups can come and enjoy both indoor and outdoor experiences, this is something that will be really transformational and sustainable for us through additional revenue sources that we can expand hours and both operating months throughout the year,” Garton concluded.

The expansion plans also call for adding 125-parking spaces and a 500-seat open air—but covered—concert pavilion with stage.