Field Trip Features Native-Plant Gardens at Five Faith Communities in Kalamazoo Area


June 17  10 am – 1 pm

Wild Ones have been involved in a number of native-garden plantings at churches and faith communities throughout the area. Our June field trip, on Saturday, June 17, will feature visits to five of these plantings, most of them guided by the Wild Ones members who have helped to establish and maintain them.

The Church Native Garden Tour is a “scramble,” which means that participants can start anywhere, include as many or as few gardens as they wish, and go north, south, or in a circle, as best suits their needs and personalities.

Brief description of each planting and our suggested routes (which can be north to south or south to north) are as follows. These routes avoid backtracking. This starts from the north, but works from the south as well; just reverse the directions. There will be a guide at each garden location from 10 am to 1 pm.

People’s Church Unitarian Universalist, 1758 N. 10th St., Kalamazoo. Go to North 10th St., which is off W. Main 1 block west of US-131, and turn right (north) and go about 6/10 of a mile. The church is on the right (east). The native garden is a labyrinth surrounded by native plants, with about 60 different native plant species. The labyrinth garden is up the hill to the left of the church as you face the church. This is a walking meditation garden.

Skyridge Church of the Brethren, 394 S. Drake Rd., Kalamazoo. Go east from 10th St. to Drake Road, turn south on Drake, and go until the first light. Keep going and look on your right – Skyridge is on your right (west). This native planting is a rain garden, with upland plantings on the margins. The mission of the Church is “to care for creation cooperatively with mother nature in such a way as to increase biodiversity” and provide a meditation “oasis” for Sunday school classes, the neighboring community, and patients at Progressive Alternatives, a rehabilitation center for brain injuries located next door to the Church.

Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, 2208 Winchell Ave., Kalamazoo. From Skyridge go south on Drake to Stadium Drive and turn east on Stadium. Follow Stadium to Rambling Rd. (True Value Hardware is on the corner) and turn right on Rambling. On Rambling go up to the stop sign and turn left, which is Winchell. On Winchell go until you see the church on the left (north) (it is big and hard to miss), Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. This is the newest of the gardens, and it will be interesting to see how it will progress. It includes plantings for a permaculture Food Forest Garden and new beds for community vegetable gardens.

Portage Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, 7028 Oakland Rd., Portage, MI. From Disciples of Christ turn east (left) on Winchell, go to Oakland Drive and turn right (south). Keep on Oakland south past I-94, and keep going on Oakland to Romence Rd. The church is on the southwest corner of Romence and Oakland. This church shows a planned native garden as well as native plants used in a variety of difficult spots (slope too steep to mow, patch of lawn taken over by crab grass, etc.)

Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, 342 N. Grand St., Schoolcraft. From Portage Chapel Hill UMC go on Oakland south to Center St., turn right on Center (west) and go to US-131. Go south on US-131 to Schoolcraft. Schoolcraft UMC is in downtown Schoolcraft on the left (east) side of the road. This 12-year-old garden is probably the largest of the gardens, and has shrubs, trees, a prairie, and a community garden. It’s widely used by members of the community. The Church Native-Garden Tour will be followed up by a panel discussion, “Having Faith in Native Gardens,” at our final meeting of the year, November 15. Participants in the panel include four Wild Ones discussing their work with faith communities and the ways in which these gardens have become gathering centers for both members of the congregation and their neighbors.