The Merwin Conservancy is a small and thriving arts and ecology organization on the island of Maui. It conserves both an extraordinary place—a lush and rare, 19-acre palm forest that two-time Pulitzer prize winning poet W.S. Merwin planted and tended on land designated as agricultural wasteland — and it conserves the sense of wonder that brought forth both Merwin’s poetry, and his garden.
We inspire innovation in the arts and sciences by advancing the ideas of W.S. Merwin – his life, work, house and palm forest – as fearless and graceful examples of the power of imagination and renewal.
To fulfill this mission, the Conservancy maintains the house and palm forest as a place of stillness and reflection for retreat, study, and contemplation through a residency program for creative visionaries and thought leaders from Hawaii and across the world. We engage both local and global communities through our Green Room literary and environmental salon series, through dynamic multimedia storytelling projects, and through innovative collaborations with various artistic, scientific and educational leaders and institutions.
The Unfolding Story…
April 2010: The Merwin Conservancy is founded by W.S. Merwin and Paula Merwin, and friends from Copper Canyon Press, National Tropical Botanical Garden, and Maui Coastal Land Trust.
May 2014: With partners Dr. John Dransfield of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, National Tropical Botanical Gardens, and The Nature Conservancy, The Merwin Conservancy catalogs the entire Merwin palm collection, comprising over 3,000 palms and nearly 400 species.
October 2014: William and Paula donate a perpetual conservation easement to the Hawai‘i Land Trust, protecting the land from future development.
March 2017: Paula Merwin dies, two days short of her 81st birthday.
March 2019: William Merwin dies at the age of 91.
January 2020: The home and garden pass from the Merwin family to The Merwin Conservancy.
2020 and 2021: The Merwin Conservancy begins restoration of and repairs to the house. The garden dojo is restored.
December 2021: The Merwin Conservancy launches a pilot phase of its residency program.