Interview with Waasnodekwe – Northern Lights Woman
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
2d ago
Image: E. Netherlands What is the significance of the Northern Lights for you and your tribe? For me, from the Anishinaabe perspective, the northern lights, Waasnoode, is a sacred act that we see that represents the word “waas” which is light and then part of it, “noode”, so it’s to me it’s like representing the heart light of Mother Earth. And it’s representative of those teachings that everything is lowered from the Spirit. So that heart light from the Earth would be part of that spiritual acknowledgment that we make between those sky beings and the air, the Earth, the water, the people, t ..read more
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Campus Farm experiments with composting stadium waste
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
2d ago
Pilot project cultivates sustainability and experiential learning  Compost from football games could be used to grow produce at the student-run Campus Farm, if a recent experiment goes well. This approach to managing the Michigan Stadium waste stream would capture valuable nutrients for the Campus Farm and provide experiential learning and research opportunities.  The Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a living-learning lab where students engage in hands-on experiences through food grown by students for students. This pilot project builds on the Campus Farm’s mission by pa ..read more
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Beavers settle in Fleming Creek
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
3d ago
For the first time since the gardens were founded in 1907, beavers have made a home at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Their dam and lodge can be seen from a trail near the Fleming Creek Overlook.  “I first noticed the signs during a staff walking event on November 1st,” said Jeff Plakke, MBGNA’s Natural Areas Program Lead. “It looked like a bit of a dam had been built, but at first I was in disbelief. I thought it might have just been leaves and sticks that had fallen during a storm.” There was no denying the other signs of beaver that were evident upon further inspection. Some trees had ..read more
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Rebirth After the Storm: Restoring Nichols Arboretum with Native Oaks
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
1M ago
In late August, a fierce storm took its toll on Nichols Arboretum, and over a hundred mature trees were brought down from high winds and rain. Yet, within this chaos, we have found an opportunity for renewal, staying true to our commitment to promote environmental and ecological sustainability. Well before the storm, oak tree management had taken center stage in our efforts to safeguard the Arboretum’s ecological well-being. Studies conducted within the space had revealed a concerning absence of oak tree seedlings. Oaks are not just any tree; they are keystone species, vital for maintaining ..read more
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Preserving Nichols Arboretum: An Interview with Natural Areas Program Lead, Jeff Plakke
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
1M ago
In late August 2023, Nichols Arboretum suffered significant storm damage resulting in the loss of over 150 mature trees. Jeff Plakke’s journey with MBGNA began as an Arboretum intern in 2003. With over two decades of experience and dedication, Jeff now works as Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum’s Natural Areas Program Lead. His deep-rooted passion for preserving and enhancing the environment has shaped his unique perspective on conservation.  In the aftermath of August’s devastating storm, Jeff’s extensive experience became especially valuable. In this interview with Je ..read more
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HarvestFest 2023 Recap
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
2M ago
HarvestFest at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum was a resounding success! On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, the Campus Farm came alive with the vibrant spirit of sustainability, social justice, and creativity. The event, hosted by the UM Sustainable Food Program and the Campus Farm, showcased the incredible work of U-M students in driving sustainable food initiatives. With over 1,400 people in attendance, it was a true testament to the community’s dedication to these important causes. Attendees were treated to a diverse range of activities, ensuring th ..read more
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Fall 2023 Nature Play Pop-Ups at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
2M ago
The Gaffield Children’s Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is hosting weekly hands-on Nature Play Pop-ups for fall 2023.  Nature Play Pop-ups will occur on select Wednesday evenings, 4:45 pm – 5:45 pm. Dates: October 11th, October 18th, October 25th, November 8th, November 22nd, November 29th 4:45 pm – 5:45 pm This lightly guided play takes place in the nature art area of the Gaffield Children’s Garden. Young children will have hands-on fun while taking a closer look at nature, and parents will leave with easy ideas to encourage creative nature play at home. No registration, free even ..read more
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From Farm to Pantry: Empowering Students for Food Equity
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
2M ago
Born out of the University of Michigan’s commitment to advancing food justice and sustainability and fueled by the dedication of students, two unique student-led food-based initiatives grew and thrived  – Campus Farm and Maize and Blue Cupboard. Both of these organizations originated from the UM Sustainable Food Program, embarking on parallel paths, bound together by a commitment to these shared principles. Located at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the Campus Farm was officially established in 2012. It aimed to do more than just grow food; it was a hub for students to learn and lead. With ..read more
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Elevating a garden in need
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
2M ago
A volunteer group is moving boulders to revamp one of Matthaei Botanical Gardens’ unique growing spaces. Marie Azary donated the namesake garden to the botanical gardens in 1985 in order to showcase the art of rock gardening as well as alpine plants from around the world. As the garden aged, however, its myriad specimens eventually ceded to the rise of a few dominant species. The space lost its magic, in turn. Matthaei horticulturists are teaming up with volunteers from the local Great Lakes Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society to restore the space’s former glory by literally e ..read more
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MBGNA Work Propels $30M NSF Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
by Kerry Sprague
3M ago
The University of Michigan, in collaboration with the College of Menominee Nation, is set to play a pivotal role in the newly announced National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS): a five-year, $30 million international NSF Science and Technology Center based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The center will braid Indigenous knowledge systems with Western science to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. CBIKS will work on complex, evolving challenges brought on by climate change, including dire impacts affecting lan ..read more
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