You are here

Business Planning & Management

More content on this page is forthcoming. Please return soon to see an Introduction and Goals for this Attribute. Principles and Best Practices along with a six step process model (see outline below) will help your garden plan a scope of work to address goals for this topic.



Investigate and Establish a Baseline

A baseline provides some form of inventory that future efforts/years can be compared to. This may encompass a general audit of existing programs, policies, or practices that are known to be in place which are meeting or striving to meet Attribute goals. Establishing a baseline may serve to build confidence ahead of all later stages of the process, as public gardens are, by their very nature, already following a number of sustainable mandates (Your Garden is a Conservation Garden) for which they may receive “credit.”

Identify Stakeholders

No matter which goals your team chooses to tackle, the process will be a group effort. Many diverse stakeholders that make up your garden community will engage early and be represented throughout the process. There is no one right way to get to a plan of action for your garden, but the right first steps will involve identifying the people who should be invited into the process. Some of these stakeholders should continue work on this project through the evaluation and dissemination (education) phases. Community-based projects have an increased chance of success when all stakeholders feel that they can contribute to the solution and benefit from the results.  

Data Collection/Resources

In order for data collection to benefit a garden working towards sustainability, there must be a clear articulation of how a data set relates to the gardens greater goals or mission. Data collection must have a finite timeline, resulting in identification of needed resources to make well informed action decisions.

Develop and Implement a Plan of Action

Just as data collection should be goal driven, the action planning process must also help the garden to identify the important criteria for action decisions. Financial oversight includes matching action steps to existing resources and developing realistic timelines. Consider how to continue to cultivate buy-in and demonstrated engagement from the most influential staff members who have been part of all steps in the process.

Evaluate/Revise/Monitor and Maintain Success

Evaluation tools should be determined by effectiveness and available resources (including personnel time). This section helps your garden determine what is best for the site, providing guidance where goals were not achieved in order to revise the plan, research, and take further action.

Report Communicate and Educate

When gardens identify meaningful accomplishments, they must determine how and what to share in an internal capacity with stakeholders and in an external capacity with the public/target audiences or on a national scale (such as through our Association’s network).


The Public Gardens Sustainability Index Working Group is made up of diverse field-wide professionals. Does your expertise lie within an Attribute area? Help us build content for Principles and Best Practices. Have success stories? Let us collect your Case Studies. Contact Sarah Beck:


Case Study 

North Carolina Arboretum

The strategy behind the North Carolina Arboretum’s economic development efforts is place-based: it seeks to utilize the region’s unique assets to build elite research clusters. The Bent Creek Institute works to leverage the region’s unique biodiversity, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center has the potential to anchor Asheville as the center of the country’s climatic research operations. Both efforts are young and the full extent of their economic impact on the region will not be apparent for some time. However, by building an infrastructure through which the region can leverage its assets, the Arboretum is taking an active role in setting Southern Appalachia’s economic course.

Located on site at the North Carolina Arboretum, Bent Creek Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit affiliate of the Arboretum working in tandem with the Arboretum’s Bent Creek Germplasm Repository. Bent Creek is dedicated to the economic development of the western North Carolina region, through the creation of complementary partnerships to share knowledge and resources that utilize the region’s unique plant biodiversity for the advancement of biotechnology. Tactics for achieving this strategy are to:

• Develop new tools and therapeutic protocols to help understand the health benefits and drug interaction risks of botanical medicines;

• Validate botanically-based approaches to complementary and alternative medicine…through clinical trial design and development assistance;

• Serve the nation as an international repository and clearinghouse for the study, protection, and careful commercial use of medicinal plants and endophytes;

• Create unique research and work-study opportunities for graduate students as well as undergraduate and K-12 students;

• Discover knowledge and create economic incentives to drive informed environmental public policy that will protect Western North Carolina’s unique biodiversity assets.

Climate change’s impact has become more prominent in the public discourse and, more tangibly, in public spending and investment. Thanks to its location, biodiversity and burgeoning plant-based industries, Southern Appalachia is especially sensitive to climatic shifts, both biologically and economically. Through innovative partnerships with government actors and research institutions, the Arboretum hopes to facilitate a better understanding of climate change’s effects, while establishing Asheville as a climate research and commerce center of national importance. Partnerships include:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Climatic Data Center: Part of the (NOAA), the National Climatic Data Center contains the archives for six decades of US weather data. The Center hosts the North Carolina-based Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, while the Arboretum’s executive director leads the partnering non-profit Centers for Environmental and Climatic Interaction (CECI).130

Centers for Environmental and Climatic Interaction: The Center works closely with the Centers for Environmental and Climatic Interaction (CECI), Inc., led by the Arboretum, and hosts the recently formed North Carolina component of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites that has been responsible for adding over 20 scientific positions to the Asheville economy.

Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites: CICS seeks to facilitate cooperative research in support of NOAA’s mission and goals related to climate and satellite data: to “understand and predict changes in Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet the nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs.” It values the Arboretum as a partner for its focus on “regional impacts of climate change on flora, plant adaptation to climate variations, a medicinal germ-plasm collection, outreach to the K-20 communities, and with the Bent Creek Institute, a focus on translating research into sustainable economic investments.”