Limeledge Botanical Garden and Arboretum

While preparing for the 2023 planting season, Limeledge and the family trust that owns the old Simmons farm hosting Limeledge were sued. The suit contained wild accusations and allegations against certain family trustees, and against Limeledge. Upon arguing our case and having our day in court, the allegations and the lawsuit against us were DISMISSED. In addition, Limeledge was granted a cease-and-desist order against those that had attempted to use the lawsuit to prevent the farm transition from moving forward. More details on Limeledge’s history and formation can be seen in Dr. Crim’s personal affidavit in response to the suit .

Limeledge milkhouse. crumbling and overgrown with plants.
As the court battle ensued, the Limeledge obstructors were granted temporary control of the property and continued to neglect the state of the property and its structures. For months, Limeledge was powerless to move forward with planned maintenance and improvements made in cooperation with the trust

Why would anyone try to destroy an initiative as unique and beneficial to the community as Limeledge? When people act this way, the answer is almost always related to money. The parties supporting the lawsuit against Limeledge had been secretly meeting with a representative from Pyramid Management Group about selling the property to an unknown buyer hiding behind a shell corporation— likely a mining company. Following the initiation of Limeledge’s formation in 2022, a purchase offer— facilitated by Pyramid— was presented for the trust farm property and an adjacent parcel owned by Limeledge founder Philip Crim. This offer was strongly rejected by Dr. Crim and the Simmons family majority.  

Limeledge Botanical Garden and Arboretum has two large quarries less than a mile away to the east and west.
Limeledge Botanical Garden and Arboretum (LBGA) has two large quarries nearby, as well as other parcels owned by mining companies. Eugene Simmons, the former owner that created the trust to protect the property, resisted many aggressive offers by mining companies to purchase the property over the years, including some that would have made him considerably wealthier. Now Limeledge is leading the fight to protect the fragile ecosystems still present, while making them available for the community to enjoy and love.

Limeledge is perched on the edge of a Limestone outcrop that runs across upstate New York, from the Helderberg Escarpment in the Capital Region all the way to Lake Erie and beyond. What is a steep cliff at Thacher Park near Albany is a much more gradual, graceful slope in CNY. As a result of our location, there are two large stone quarries less than a mile from Limeledge, and large parcels of land in this area are particularly valuable for mining— and exploitation. As the image above shows, there is also a large belt of forest in this area, and this undeveloped area consists of high-quality habitat such as fens, limestone glades, and a wide variety of soils over the limestone thanks to glaciation. Some of the best botanizing in the area can be found there, and one tree species that had been recently declared extinct in Onondaga County— native Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus)— still exists in these woodlands. In fact, it is present on the very property hosting Limeledge and grows right up to the edge of the arboretum on the Cook Lot. Its occurrence is so special here that it inspired Limeledge’s logo.

Our native Kentucky coffeetrees at Limeledge often have unusually shaggy bark, and grow right up to the edge of our main arboretum planting area.
Our native Kentucky coffeetrees at Limeledge often have unusually shaggy bark, and grow right up to the edge of our main arboretum planting area

However, even with the lawsuit won and a cease and desist on the behalf of Limeledge to protect it from its attackers, the threats to the property continue. Debris was piled in a planting area leased by Limeledge to prevent our plans from moving forward, and a garden was guerilla-planted nearby as well. Limeledge was threatened with being dragged through the mud if the garden was removed; a story was concocted that it was their mother’s garden, and that Limeledge would be slandered in the community for destroying an old lady’s garden if we moved forward in exerting our rights on the property. We did— and we were extensively slandered on social media, in heinous violation of the cease and desist order.

The stone outcrops at Limeledge create a diverse array of habitats, but they are very fragile… and extremely exploitable

In November, some of the parties behind the lawsuit brought staff and machinery from a local nursery into the fragile woodland ecosystems at Limeledge. Using a Bobcat, they began tearing up the understory to remove as many fossil-laden stones to sell for landscaping as possible. Fortunately, their activities were halted, but not before significant damage was inflicted upon the landscape.

American walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum) had only been found in one spot, and following an attempted stone theft and damage to its habitat at this location, it may now be extinct at Limeledge
American walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum) had only been found on the property in one place, and following an attempted stone theft and damage to its habitat at this location, it may now be extinct at Limeledge

Help us conserve this fragile and unique landscape and its ecology while making it a place that everyone in CNY can explore and enjoy!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to see all of our e-updates!

Limeledge Botanical Garden and Arboretum

View Our Articles of Incorporation Here

View Our 501(c)(3) Determination Here