Xavier Cortada and Local Schools Commit to Reforestation Effort on Virginia Key


College of Architecture + The Arts artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada recently joined students from Southside Elementary, St. Phillips, and Sunset Elementary in planting seedlings on Virginia Key. This event was part of Cortada’s participatory eco-art project started in 2006 called Reclamation Project.

At Virginia Key, Cortada helped Southside Elementary students plant mangrove propagules they had previously installed in their class as a vertical nursery. Teachers and parents from all three schools joined in the reforestation efforts. Teachers were trained and prepared for events such as this during a seminar in the fall taught by Cortada.

Reclamation Project, which is done in partnership with the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science, explores our ability to coexist with the natural world. Since 2007, the coastal reforestation component of the Reclamation Project has been based at the Frost Museum of Science, where an installation of 1,100 mangrove seedlings is on permanent exhibit. Annually, volunteers collect mangrove propagules in coastal areas. The propagules are then exhibited in clear, water-filled cups, where they are nurtured into seedlings and eventually planted along coastal areas. This coastal reforestation creates new habitats above and below the water line. (Source: Reclamation Project)

The Reclamation Project’s Native Flags initiative aims to regrow native habitats in upland areas. Participants are encouraged to plant a native tree and a green flag in their front yard, reclaiming it for nature. Native Flags is based at Miami-Dade’s Deering Estate at Cutler, where visitors can purchase their green flag and see an exhibit of the 12 native trees featured for South Florida. (Source: Reclamation Project)

The Reclamation Project Foundation generates resources to help implement this participatory eco-art project. The Board’s current emphasis is on educating and engaging South Floridians in reforesting coastal and urban areas by bringing the Reclamation Project to local communities, institutions, and schools. Since the original temporary installations at South Beach retail spaces during 2006, the Reclamation Project expanded to three other Florida communities to include: South Florida (presented by the Frost Museum of Science and Deering Estate at Cutler); Treasure Coast (presented by Martin County Council of the Arts and Heathcote Botanical Gardens); Pinellas County (presented by Pinellas County Public Art and Design Program and Florida Botanical Gardens); and Tampa (presented by Tampa Preparatory School). (Source: Reclamation Project)

All images in this article were captured by Nancy Suarez, teacher at Southside Elementary.


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