ITHACA, N.Y.—With a mission to create a more “beautiful, resilient and just world,” the Ithaca Children’s Garden (ICG) is adding a new permanent yurt structure to its 3-acre space on Ithaca’s west end.

Executive Director Candice Meade said that for years, educators at ICG have faced challenges when it comes to programming in harsh weather, so having an on-site structure will provide greater opportunities, particularly the preschool and after-school programs.

“Programming through the winter months in Ithaca is very difficult without a year-round shelter on-site, and additionally in COVID times, a shared space is really significant,” she said.

Aside from providing safer, sheltered programming year-round, the 30-foot yurt will allow staff members to remain on-site for administrative duties and will be open to visitors during staffed hours when programming isn’t happening.

Fully community-funded through foundation support and individual donors, the yurt will be outfitted with chairs, tables and program activities and games, and will be fully equipped with heat, running water and restrooms, and the structure will be wheelchair accessible.

Yurt construction as of May 31, 2022. (Photo by Casey Martin)

“We hope that the yurt will expand on the great work the garden has done to encourage the neighborhoods most in need and will allow for all-year access to visitors and local families to enjoy so that the garden is a consistent and persistent positive presence in more community lives,” ICG board member Brock Gibian said.

Following some septic and electrical work at the garden, ICG is aiming to complete the yurt at the end of June or beginning of July so it can be enjoyed through the remainder of the summer before cold weather sets in.

The garden will remain open throughout construction, and safety fences and signage have been posted around the site to keep visitors safe.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is the digital editor/reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Joining in November 2021, she has covered a wide range of topics related to local news. She can be reached at,...