The Million Orchid Project: Fairchild Gardens & Miami Design District

Photo Credit:  Andrew Giambarba for MIAbites

Photo Credit:  Andrew Giambarba for MIAbites

Tucked away on over 83 acres of lush tropical foliage in Coral Gables, is the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. A day spent there is a perfect escape from the work week and the stresses of the world around us.  Fairchild’s mission is to save tropical plant diversity by exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants including mangos, dates, and nectarines.

During last months June 21 Summer Solstice, Fairchild joined with the luxury retail and upscale food destination, Miami Design District,  on a very ambitious project, The Million Orchid Project, to plant native Florida orchids in around the plazas populated by the luxury retailers. Fairchild’s goal is to propagate millions of native orchids for reintroduction into South Florida’s urban landscapes.

Celebrating the ceremonial planting was Nathan Browning, Principal of Island Planning Corporation, and Jason L. Downing, Ph. D., Orchid Biologist at Fairchild Tropical Gardens.  The orchid seedlings are actually planted in the trees with twine and a bit of liquid nail (glue). The Design District will get 20,000 of them in the canopy and in planters. If they “take” they will begin to bloom as they get mature.

Also on hand was, STEMLab at The Market #atMDD inside Jungle Plaza (3801 NE 1st Avenue), a decommissioned school bus transformed into a state-of-the-art botanical propagation lab that gives visitors the opportunity to participate in the Million Orchid Project. It is a permanent fixture at the popular Market #atMDD every Wednesday from 3- 8 pm, which features over 40 vendors with fresh produce, artisanal breads, teas, gelato, oils, jams and prepared meals to sit and enjoy or to take home.

Andrew Giambarba was on hand for the planting and captured these wonderful images of the passionate team behind the Million Orchid Project and joined them for a glass of Prosecco in celebration at nearby OTL.

For more information about the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and their ongoing and new exhibits please visit their website at

And next time you visit the Design District, smile at those orchid seedlings up in the trees and in the planters around you.  Encouragement is the best plant food.