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.

2022 Work Day Schedule

April 151:00-4:00pmFridayGlen Park5
April 212:00-400pmThursdayKPS1
May 192:00-4:00pmThursdayNorthglade Elementary6
June 22:00-4:00pmThursdayTom & Ruth’s House2
June 142:00-4:00pmThursdayGlen Park5
June 232:00-4:00pmThursdayKPS1
July 99:00-11:00amSaturdayParis Cleaners3
July 219:00-11:00amTuesdayParis Cleaners3*
August 119:00-11:00amThursdayAxtell Creek4
August 189:00-11:00amThursdayGlen Park5
Aug. 309:00-11:00amTuesdayKPS1
Sept. 132:00-4:00pmTuesdayKPS1

1KPS – Kalamazoo Public Schools Administration Building (1220 Howard St, Kalamazoo | MAP): Several years ago a prairie planting was established in a 3000 square-foot circular area in front of the building by another organization. Unfortunately, it was not maintained and was being invaded by non-native species. In 2013, with the assistance of the Kalamazoo Public Schools we removed the old vegetation and established a new planting of native prairie and savannah plants.  Since then we have worked regularly to control invasive alien species as well as some of those we planted.  And periodically we add new plants as openings allow.  Volunteer and learn about native plants, invasives and how to maintain native plantings.

2Tom & Ruth Small’s Gardens (2502 Waite Ave, Kalamazoo – MAP): Volunteer and help us get ready for the annual Spring Plant Exchange

Cup plant and mallow

3Paris 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, to a significant extent, is self-sustaining.  We pick up trash, remove some invasives, 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 invasives.

4Axtell 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 invasives.

5Glen Park (Kensington Ave – MAP).  Glen Park is a small “pocket park”.  It can be accessed from Parkview Ave off of Oakland Drive if heading east on Parkview (and note that Parkview Ave. is closed to westbound traffic due to road construction). 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, invasives and site restoration.

6Northglade Montesorri Magnet School (1914 Cobb Ave – MAP). North off of Patterson, just west of N. Westnedge. Volunteer and learn about site preparation and installation of native plants.

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.

Thanks to our volunteers: doing vital work on community projects and plant exchanges, which spread the word about native plants and make our work and our mission visible in the community.

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.

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