Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Easterseals Southwest Florida, Inc. partner on edible gardens as part of Selby Gardens’ Master Site Plan

May 16, 2019

SARASOTA, FL – May 15, 2019:  Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens) announces a partnership with Easterseals Southwest Florida, Inc (Easterseals), along with their partners Operation EcoVets, to design, plan, plant, and provide ongoing maintenance of edible gardens on Selby Gardens’ property as part of Phase One of its new Master Site Plan.  The project expands on an informal partnership that began in 2018 whereby Easterseals, along with Operation ECO Vets, provide design, care and maintenance of an edible permaculture garden at Selby Gardens.

“Sustainability is at the core of our Master Site Plan concept,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. “The expansion of our on-site edible gardens to supply the planned new restaurant is an extension of our mission to understand and appreciate plants. With the direction of skilled experts at Easterseals, Selby Gardens will be able to use the edible garden and the restaurant to teach the principles of permaculture and sustainability.”

Easterseals serves individuals with disabilities. Operation ECO Vets, partners of Easterseals, serves veterans some of whom suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other physical disabilities. The work these veterans engage in at Selby Gardens’ edible gardens will serve as horticultural therapy for these individuals.

“Easterseals and our partner Operation ECO Vets are excited to be a part of Selby Gardens’ transformation,” says Tom Waters. “The partnership brings many valuable opportunities to not only contribute to a sustainable restaurant, but an opportunity for people, many with disabilities to utilize their skills for the greater society. It’s a win-win all around.”

Selby Gardens is currently in the planning stage of a 10-year, three-phase Master Site Plan. A significant component of Phase One of the Master Site Plan is the construction of a proposed roof-top restaurant on the Sky Garden that will be fueled by two edible gardens. One will be located at the restaurant level and will be used primarily for display and educational purposes. The other one will be located on the roof of the restaurant and will be a significant provider of edibles for use in the restaurant. The restaurant will be the first Certified Net Positive Energy Restaurant in the world and will be owned by Selby Gardens and operated by Michael’s on East. A significant portion of the proceeds from the restaurant sales will benefit Selby Gardens.

Michael Klauber, co-proprietor of Michael’s on East and the operator of the proposed on-site restaurant, says “Our food will not only be delicious and healthy, but will be able to tell many stories–how the food is grown, why it grows the way it does, and who the amazing individuals are who grow the food.”

Permaculture is based on principles and relationships inherent in nature. Produce is grown in a manner that is congruent with the processes found in nature, where various elements depend on one another in a mutually beneficial manner, thereby reducing unnecessary wastes and byproducts. Furthermore, location-specific resources and climate are important elements of permaculture. To this end, the restaurant will serve food that is only grown in southwest Florida.

The new edible gardens in Selby Gardens’ Master Plan are funded by Drs. Judith and Andrew Economos. “Sustainable agriculture is incredibly needed in today’s society” says Dr. Andrew Economos. “I am excited that Selby Gardens has seen to it to ensure that this is part of their Master Plan.”

For more information on Selby Gardens’ Master Site Plan or on this partnership, please contact Lynn Bates at or 941.366.5731 Ext. 235.


About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic plants such as orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns and other tropical plants, with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. For more information, please visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas. Regular admission is $20 and $10 children ages 4-17; members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens.

About Easterseals of Southwest Florida

Easterseals Southwest Florida has been serving children, adults and families with disabilities since 1946 helping individuals and their families become as independent as possible. Our services include pre-school, elementary, high school, employment, adult life skills, family support services and through partnership neurofeedback and horse therapy. Easterseals, 350 Braden Ave., Sarasota. Contact us at (941) 355-7637 or at