Our Mission

Patch of Heaven Sanctuary is dedicated to preserving our forest and local wildlife, as well as
the integrity of the historic structures located on the property.


What We've Achieved

  • Acquisition of adjoining properties in order to enlarge the forest

  • Modeling agroforestry by planting Theobroma cacao

  • Created a significant water source that would encourage and sustain wildlife

  • Significant work to restore the tropical hammock

  • Elimination of invasive plant species

  • Preservation of historic structures

  • Construction of a major Bat House

  • Established a 10-hive apiary to produce honey

  • Release of animal species into the environment


Patch of Heaven Sanctuary's Founder, Executive Director and Director of Horticulture discuss how we became a nonprofit and what our mission and vision are for the future of the Redland area.

Tropical Hammock Conservation

According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, tropical hardwood hammocks are found sporadically throughout the southern half of South Florida. There are large concentrations in Miami Dade County on the Miami Rock Ridge, in the Florida Keys, the northern shores of Florida Bay and in the Pinecrest region of the Big Cypress Swamp. Tropical hardwood hammocks are closed canopy, multilayered forests, dominated by a diverse collection of evergreen and semi-deciduous tree and shrub species, most of them West Indian in origin.

Tropical hardwood hammocks serve as a critical habitat to a few native plants and various West Indian plant species. They are also a refuge to many species of wildlife including the following federally listed species: the Florida Panther, Kirtland’s Warbler, Eastern Indigo Snake, Key Deer, Key Largo Cotton Mouse, Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly and the Stock Island Tree Snail.

Unfortunately, these species have been heavily impacted by urbanization and the associated destruction, as well as invasive exotic species disturbing the ecosystem. Significant work has now been initiated to restore remaining tropical hardwood hammocks and to control exotic plant species.

The size of the canopy varies according to substrate and climate. On the Miami Rock Ridge where the Patch of Heaven Sanctuary is located, a mature hammock will have a closed canopy at approximately 60 feet. Typical canopy species found in our tropical hardwood hammocks include Gumbo-Limbo, Paradise Tree, Pigeon-Plum, Strangler Fig, Wild Mastic, and Willow-Bustic.

The Patch of Heaven Sanctuary hammock encompasses roughly 11-acres of protected forest and historical structures built by the Matheson family in 1964. We are currently undertaking a 6.5-acre canopy restoration project on a newly acquired adjacent piece of land that was once completely covered in shade structures and used as a nursery.  POHS staff has already begun reconstruction of the forest with seedlings from our protected tropical hardwood hammock.


Preserving Historic Structures

In 1964 the Matheson family built several structures on the land, including: The Main House, the Cabin, the Gate House and the Patio & Bar. We believe that by preserving these structures we are preserving a piece of Miami’s history.

These structures are also filled with history as every item from furniture to artwork was acquired through local estate sales right here in Miami.

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Patch of Heaven Sanctuary has taken on the responsibility of educating our community on the importance of protecting and preserving all types of natural areas.  We understand that a significant portion of our mission must involve educating the public about the importance of sustainable development.

From the smallest private backyards to the grandest estates, from old growth forests to new housing developments and the regeneration of forest land on barren lots, it is our mission to educate and provide guidance for the creation, protection and restoration of these important environmental spaces. The new forests of tomorrow will most likely take unfamiliar forms as our climate shifts and humanity adapts. We humans must ensure that they still provide the essentials of food, shelter, and habitat for wildlife everywhere.


Education

Patch of Heaven Sanctuary has taken on the responsibility of educating our community on the importance of protecting and preserving all types of natural areas.  We understand that a significant portion of our mission must involve educating the public about the importance of sustainable development.

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From the smallest private backyards to the grandest estates, from old growth forests to new housing developments and the regeneration of forest land on barren lots, it is our mission to educate and provide guidance for the creation, protection and restoration of these important environmental spaces. The new forests of tomorrow will most likely take unfamiliar forms as our climate shifts and humanity adapts. We humans must ensure that they still provide the essentials of food, shelter, and habitat for wildlife everywhere.

Opening Minds to the Wisdom of Nature

Carrying out our mission requires knowledge and we’re here to provide that knowledge. We’re determined to educate people of all ages about the urgency of preserving and protecting wildlife. In order for humankind to continue to thrive, we must treat nature as an important equal and a teacher that has much to show us about our interconnectedness on this planet. That’s why we strive to open minds to the wisdom of nature.


Wildlife Refuge

Patch of Heaven Sanctuary works closely with the South Florida Wildlife Center in Broward County. To date we have released two barn owls, 12 screech owls, two juvenile foxes, and five juvenile raccoons at the Sanctuary.

When the property was originally purchased in 2008, there was no existing water source for wildlife on the 11-acre parcel. Located adjacent to us, Castellow Hammock (which is roughly 120 acres) also lacked a water source. To remedy this crucial wildlife necessity, missing from the entire tropical hammock and surrounding forest, we first set to work designing a new environment that would incorporate a significant water source.

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The Koi Pond is a multi-level grotto with water flowing down into shallow pools and gathering in a large sunken basin. It will always have water readily available even when the pumps that run the cascades are long burned out.

It was truly designed with migratory birds in mind, as a breakpoint on their long flights north and south. Since finishing the garden in 2010, there has been a significant influx of wildlife. From hawks and great horned owls to the smallest of hummingbirds the area is now bountiful with wildlife.

Our most recent forest addition is composed mainly of edible plants that provide a food source for both humans and forest dwellers. Banana, Coffee and Chocolate trees are protected under a canopy of taller native trees to provide fruit to raccoons and opossums. Native herbaceous plants and shrubs produce nectar sources for hummingbirds and painted buntings who feast on unopened Scarlet Sage flowers.

Another creature we are hoping to attract with our broad expanse of water is the critically endangered Florida Bonneted bat who has been monitored foraging on insects over large surfaces of water. In an attempt to provide a safe haven for the bats, we are also expanding our Buddha Garden waters into our increasing forest area to provide a sizable feeding ground. We recently acquired 6.5 acres of scarred nursery land to our west that we are in the process of making an animal-friendly habitat. We have begun the process of constructing what we believe might be the largest bat house in the southeastern US.  It will have many compartments that can be used by an array of bat species located right here in South Florida.