Community Projects

If you like to be outdoors and work with plants, volunteering on Community Projects is a way to get hands-on experience with various native plant projects and get to know fellow Wild Ones enthusiasts.  Work days occur in Spring, Summer, and Fall at various locations in Kalamazoo.  Each work day is about a 2 hour commitment.

The objectives of these projects include 1) providing better resources for wildlife in degraded public spaces, 2) helping to improve water quality in some of the city’s wetlands, ponds and streams,  3) making the beauty of native plants visible in areas frequented by many people, and 4) promoting the name and vision of Wild Ones in the community.

For more information on how you can get involved, or to be notified by email of upcoming sessions, email Paul Olexia. The schedule for this year’s work days is below.

2023 Work Day Schedule

April 142-4pmFridayAxtell Creek1Trim grass, put down landscape cloth
April 262-4pmWednesdayGlen Park2Clear area for new plantings, move fence
May 122-4 pmFridayAxtell Creek1plant Sylphium and Hibiscus
May 172-pmWednesdayNorthglade school3Clean up and new plants
May 2610am-noonFridayGlen Park2New Plants (Hidden Savanna)
June 210am-noonFridayTom & Ruth’s house4Plant Exchange prep
June 710am-noonWednesdayGlen Park2New Plants (Wild Type)
June 1610am-noonFridayKPS5clean up and  new plants
June 2410am-noonSaturdayGlen Park2NewPlants, clean up
July 1910am-noonWednesdayParis Cleaners6clean up and remove non-natives
August 1110am – noonFridayAxtell  Creek1Purple loosestrife
August 2310am-noonWednesdayNorthglade school3 clean up & weed
Sept. 62-4pmWednesdayKPS5Weed and clean up
Sept. 152-4pmFridayGlen Park2Weed and clean up

1Axtell Creek (at Howard St. and Crosstown Parkway – MAP Park at Montessori School Building; access from Howard St. with permission, or east across Crosstown Parkway in the commercial parking lot). The main thing we currently do along Axtell Creek, downstream (east and northeast) from Howard St.  is to try to control the purple loosestrife which is rather dense.  We have introduced beetles there but they don’t seem to be  thriving, although there are some remaining as of last year.  Our major activity involves cutting off the flowering heads of purple loosestrife to try to reduce seed production and encourage some native species such as button bush, nine bark, and swamp milkweed to compete with the loosestrife. Volunteer and learn about native wetlands, and how to identify invasive species.

2Glen Park (Kensington Ave – MAP).  Glen Park is a small “pocket park”.  It can be accessed by heading west on Parkview Ave. from Oakland Drive. At approximately 1 mile, Broadway Ave. heads to the north off of Parkview.  Turn right on to Broadway and at the first intersection turn left and then left again to get on to Kensington Ave.  There is a sign for the park on the left side of Kensington. It can also be accessed through the Winchell neighborhood (consult the MAP link). Volunteer and learn about native plants, invasive species and site restoration.

3Northglade Montesorri Magnet School (1914 Cobb Ave – MAP). North off of Patterson, just west of N. Westnedge. Volunteer and learn about native plant installation and site maintenance.

4Tom & Ruth Small’s Gardens (2502 Waite Ave, Kalamazoo – MAP): Volunteer and help us get ready for the annual Spring Plant Exchange

5KPS – Kalamazoo Public Schools Administration Building (1220 Howard St, Kalamazoo | MAP): In 2013, with the assistance of the Kalamazoo Public Schools we established a new planting of native prairie and savanna plants.  Since then we have worked regularly to control invasive alien species as well as some natives that readily self-seed. We also add new plants as openings allow. Volunteer and learn about native plants, invasive species and how to maintain native plantings.

6Paris Cleaners (508 Crosstown Blvd. at Howard St. – MAP): We park behind (just to the north of) the Paris Cleaners building, near Axtell Creek. The Paris Cleaners site is a wetland planting that we established several years ago and that is, to a significant extent, self-sustaining.  We pick up trash, remove some invasive species, namely reed canary grass and the odd purple loosestrife, and monitor it for other non-native species. Volunteer and learn about native wetlands and how to identify invasive species.

Others: On occasion we have collaborated with other organizations and with some local businesses, schools (El Sol, Montessori School) and churches. We believe strongly that a major way we can impact this community is through plantings in places that show off the beauty of native plants and inform the public of their importance.

Heartfelt gratitude to our wonderful volunteers

Our volunteers who do vital work on community projects and plant exchanges to help spread the word about native plants and make our work and our mission more visible in the community.

Cup plant and mallow, Axtell Creek

Thank you to all those who volunteered on projects in 2023. Apologies to any we may have overlooked, we welcome your corrections.

Barbara Sagara
Beth Bradburn
Catherin Niesink
Cheryl Kuta
Harry Bird
Jessica Hagen
Margo Rebar
Paul Laferriere
Rochelle Habeck

Please consider volunteering at as many sites as you can. Don’t stop there: Help recruit friends, neighbors, and other members. Make these true community projects. We should warn you:  although we work pretty hard, we have fun and we learn, and it can be habit-forming.

– Paul Olexia
Community Projects Chair

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