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What is ICG?

Ithaca Children’s Garden is an award-winning, 3-acre public children’s garden designed for kids, enjoyed by all, and driven by a mission to connect children to nature to create a more beautiful, resilient and just world.

Learn why kids love Ithaca Children’s Garden.


Connecting children to nature to create a more beautiful, resilient, and just world.


Our vision is that every child has the basic human right to play, learn, and grow outdoors, and develops a life-long relationship with the living world.

The ICG Story

ICG has been honoring the whole child and fostering environmental stewardship since 1999. We believe the best way to do that is to get more children outside, with hands-on sensory experiences, having fun in the natural world. ICG is a place where kids can be kids and adults can feel good about it.

ICG was first organized in 1997 by Harriet Becker, Mary Alyce Kobler, and Monika Roth. They heard Jane Taylor of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden speak and were so inspired by the impact this children’s garden had, they decided that Ithaca’s children also needed a special place to explore and connect to nature designed especially for them.  In 1999, ICG earned its 501(c)3 non-profit status under the direction of Founding Director Meg Cole.  In 2004, a lease for 3 acres in Cass Park was secured with the City of Ithaca, and in 2005, Gaia the Turtle was built. From there the program, staff, volunteers, and Garden have grown. More than 500 community youth contributed ideas for the conceptual design, and countless youth have been involved in shaping its continued growth.

Each year ICG continues to expand the ways it meets the needs of the community while growing its regional and national impact.


ICG is

1. CHILD-CENTERED by employing playwork philosophy and practice and embracing the 4 core values of the Circle of Courage: independence, mastery, belonging, and generosity to foster positive youth development.

2. INCLUSIVE, SAFE, and committed to becoming a MULTICULTURAL organization that challenges racist power structures.

3. COLLABORATIVE by partnering with community agencies, individuals, and other field leaders to develop synergies and build on collective strengths.

4. INNOVATIVE by continuous development, evaluation, learning, reflection and improvement in our work, bringing a spirit of positivity in all things.

5. ECOLOGICALLY- CENTERED by practicing and demonstrating ecologically sensitive methods of land-care and people-care and interpreting the benefits of such practices to visitors and program participants.