This summer, we continued making improvements to the REEF Headquarters and campus in Key Largo, Florida. What was once a grass-filled plot next to the HQ building is now peppered with native plants and a beautiful Mosquito Fish pond. The Native Plants Trail, which loops through the garden, includes informational signage that identifies native and invasive species, and educates readers about the history of the Florida Keys. Another new addition is a solar panel charging station and an electric car charging station. Thank you to Monroe County Tourist Development, Wire Nuts Electric, and Conch Tree and Landscape who helped make this project possible.

The Garden Club of the Upper Keys was instrumental in the creation of REEF’s very own Butterfly Garden. Laurie Brooks and her team of gardeners designed a diverse and beautiful garden, with plants such as the American Beautyberry, Pickerelweed, and Spanish Needles. The plants surround the garden’s main feature, a pond with mosquito-eating Gambusia, built by Ian Cortina of Tropical Plants of North Key Largo. A bench near the pond offers a scenic place to sit and listen to the pond’s relaxing waterfall.

As visitors continue along the Native Plants Trail, they can read about the Florida Keys’ native and invasive species. The signs highlight invasive plant and animal species, such as the Burmese Python and the Coconut Palm, as well as educate about native species, like the Key Deer and Gumbo Limbo.  

The solar panel collects sunlight and stores it in a battery to offer pedestrians and bikers a place to charge their cell phone while on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. Educational signage explains the importance of alternative and renewable energy sources, and minimizing our CO2 footprint. 

There are plenty of new features to see at REEF HQ, so stop by to see the updates for yourself! We look forward to seeing you here.