Friday, January 13, 2017

What's Happening at Matthaei-Nichols - January-February 2017

Looking to learn something new about nature and the environment? Check out our calendar offerings from the nonprofit groups that meet here regularly.

All programs take place at
Univ. of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Programs are free and open to the public unless noted otherwise in the listing.


Wed., Jan. 18, 7:30 pm
Exploring the Brazilian Pantanal
Presented by Washtenaw Audubon Society
At 75,000 square miles, the Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world, About 80% of this alluvial floodplain is located in Brazil, and is home to 656 bird species, including the magnificent hyacinth and golden-collared macaws, iconic jabiru stork, and striking helmeted manakin. Mammal watching can be quite good, with chances for giant anteater, marsh deer, giant river otter, and Brazilian tapir. During the dry season, lucky birders may also see the most elusive of forest cats, the jaguar, as it hunts the abundant prey at water's edge. Join Cathy Theisen for this exploration of the dry season Brazilian Pantanal. Cathy is a veterinarian, avid nature watcher and birder, and serves as the education chair for Washtenaw Audubon. Free and open to all. For more information, visit washtenawaudubon.org

Sat., Jan. 21, 11 am
Miniature Orchids
Presented by Great Lakes Judging (Orchids)
A presentation by Great Lakes Judging Center accredited judge Dennis Seffernick on the growing trend of miniature orchids.

Sat., Jan. 21, 1-4 pm
So You Want to Be a Beekeeper?
Presented by Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers
All invited to this free beekeeping class hosted by Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers (A2B2). The program is designed for those with no prior beekeeping experience, or anyone interested in finding out what it takes to be keep bees. Find out where to get bees, and what equipment will work for you as a beekeeper. Participants will leave with everything they need to know to start keeping their own bees.  Program includes Q&A. No registration required. Free.


Thurs., Feb. 9
Ikebana: Japanese Flower Arranging
Presented by Ann Arbor Ikebana Intl. Chapter
Create your own seasonal Ikebana arrangement with guidance by a certified instructor. Cost: $20 which covers flowers and instructor. Reservations required. Info:  a2ikebana@gmail.com.

Mon., Feb 13, 10-11:30 am
Catching Your Breath
Presented by MI Alzheimer’s Disease Center
A free monthly program for caregivers of adults with memory loss. Designed for learning skills for continued health and well-being. Info and to register: 734.936.8803.

Tues., Feb. 14, 7 pm
Bee Nutrition and Bee Health
Presented by Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers
Eastern Apicultural Society master beekeepers Earl & Carol Hoffman discuss the important topics of bee health and nutrition. In the second half of the program, U-M grad student Austin Martin discusses his academic research on the native bee populations in Detroit.

Wed., Feb. 15, 7:30 pm
Vacation on the Riviera Maya - Birding on Family Time
Presented by Washtenaw Audubon Society
Join Jacco Gelderloos for an exploration of the bird life of the coastal Yucatan peninsula and the birding opportunities it offers. Jacco was born and raised in the Netherlands, where his father and older brother got him infected with the birding bug. After moving to the United States in the 1990s, Jacco was fortunate enough to come into contact with the local birding community. Like many other birders new to the Ann Arbor area, he was readily brought into the fold of the Washtenaw Wingnuts as well as the Washtenaw Audubon Society. As a result, Jacco has served as WAS field trip coordinator and is the current Ann Arbor CBC compiler. Over the years, Jacco has had the opportunity to bird the Netherlands (and a few surrounding countries), the US, Peru, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Mexico, and is hoping to both expand and intensify his birding horizons in the years to come. Free and open to all. For more information, visit washtenawaudubon.org

Mon., Feb. 20, 7:30 pm
Ferns of Southeast Michigan
Presented by Michigan Botanical Club
A presentation by Carol Clements of the Wayne County Parks Nankin Mills Interpretive Center.

Tues., Feb. 21, 7:30 pm
Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Grassroots Action for Energy Alternatives
Presented by Sierra Club Huron Valley
Volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby present CCL’s proposal for legislation to address climate change, outlining the proposal’s effectiveness and feasibility and how it would benefit the environment and the economy.

Wed., Feb. 22, 6:30–9 pm
Demonstration of Bonsai Grafting Techniques
Presented by Ann Arbor Bonsai Society Jon Genereaux, a propagator at Michigan State University’s Hidden
Lake Gardens, offers practical hands-on experience, demonstrating root cuttings and grafting techniques  related to woody material.

Sat., Feb. 25, 1:30-3 pm
Creative Natives for Rock Gardens
Presented by Great Lakes Chapter North American Rock Garden Society
Rising rock-gardening star Kenton Seth from Paint Brush Gardens talks about innovative uses for native plants of dry climates beyond simply xeriscapes.
Info: reznicek@umich.edu.

Monday, December 12, 2016

What's Happening at Matthaei-Nichols - January 2017

Looking to learn something new, or plan for warmer weather with a program about gardening or the environment? Check out our January calendar offerings from our nonprofit groups that meet here regularly.

All programs take place at
Univ. of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Programs are free and open to the public unless noted otherwise in the listing.

Tues., Jan. 10, 7 pm
Native Gardens at Home
Presenter: Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers
Matthaei-Nichols director Bob Grese explores approaches for using native plants in home gardens and providing habitat for pollinators. In the second half of the program, MSU research
specialist Julia Brokaw gives a presentation on mason bees and building

nest boxes for them.

Wed., Jan. 11, 6-7:30 pm
Catching Your Breath
A free monthly program for caregivers of adults with memory loss. Designed for learning skills for continued health and well-being. Info and to register: 734.936.8803. Also Feb. 13, March 13, and April 12. For more information visit the MADC website.

Wed., Jan. 11, 6:45 pm
Seed Cleaning and Exchange
Presenter: Wild Ones Ann Arbor
Come and celebrate a new growing season with a demonstration of seed cleaning techniques (includes ritual fire for the milkweed). Bring your own native plant seeds to share or just leave with what you need.  All welcome.734.604.4674.

Thurs., Jan. 12, 2017
NOTE: This is a fee-based program
Ikebana: Japanese Flower Arranging
Presenter: Ann Arbor Ikebana International Chapter
Create your own seasonal Ikebana arrangement with guidance by a certified instructor. Workshops are the second Thursday of each month from 1:00 - 2:30 in room 125. Cost is $20.00 which covers flowers and instructor. Reservations required. Info:  a2ikebana@gmail.com.

Mon., Jan. 16, 7:30 pm
Wildflowers of Michigan Nature Association Sanctuaries
Presenter: Michigan Botanical Club
A discussion by Michigan Nature Association staff member Rachel Maranto.

Sat., Jan. 21, 11 am
Miniature Orchids
Presenter: Great Lakes Judging (Orchids)
A presentation by Great Lakes Judging Center accredited judge Dennis Seffernick on the growing trend of miniature orchids.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Farm Forward at the University of Michigan

With strong support from the university and from students, Campus Farm and Sustainable Food Program managers Jeremey Moghtader and Alex Bryan bring continuity and expertise to a growing food movement at Michigan.

The U-M Campus Farm began in 2012 on a small plot of land near the Project Grow garden at U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens on Dixboro Rd.

While the actual growing of plants started that year, the idea for the farm first took root in the late 1990s, according to Matthaei-Nichols director and U-M School of Natural Resources professor Bob Grese. Several faculty members, in particular Catherine Badgley and Ivette Perfecto, introduced a course in sustainable agriculture. Not long after, students and faculty began asking for places on campus where food gardens could be located, Grese recalls.
University of Michigan students working at the Campus Farm in the summer.
The students are enthusiastic about working at the farm and about growing
plants that are used for food.

The campus gardening trend picked up steam with the formation of the student gardening group Cultivating Community in 2004. This collaborative project by U-M students, faculty and staff, community members, and Matthaei-Nichols to grow vegetables and herbs on campus made possible a demonstration food garden at the Ginsberg Center on campus. As interest in campus food and gardening continued to grow, Grese explains, a group of students in Dr. Michael Schriberg’s class “Sustainability in the Campus” developed a proposal for creating a campus farm in 2011. “The students approached me about locating it at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens site,” says Grese, “and submitted a proposal to the newly created Planet Blue Student Initiative Fund.” The idea became a reality when Planet Blue provided the nascent farm with $42,000 of seed funding.
Jeremy Moghtader (left) is the new Campus Farm
manager. Standing next to Jeremy is Alex Bryan,
manager of the sustainable food program.

New Managers Bring Continuity to the Farm and Campus Food Movements
The campus farm coincided with other food-related initiatives at U-M, says Grese. This included hiring of new faculty in LSA’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Public Health, School of Natural Resources and Environment, and Taubman College as part of the Sustainable Food Systems Initiative. This was followed by the creation of an undergraduate minor and a graduate certificate program in Sustainable Food Systems, and the growth in a number of student organizations devoted to sustainable food and the creation of the Sustainable Food Program (UMSFP). With all of this energy and commitment, Grese says, “the Campus Farm has become a centerpiece for Matthaei-Nichols of our commitment to environmental sustainability and to our desire to engage students and classes in hands-on learning.”

Given the complexity of the various food-related projects and the nature of campus life and its changing cast of students, the need for a farm manager and for someone who could coordinate the student food groups was recognized early on.

In the fall 2016, Jeremy Moghtader and Alex Bryan were brought on board. Both are U-M alumni and bring extensive experience. Jeremy was most recently Director of Programs at the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm. Alex was Director of Agricultural Programs for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Together they’ll help nurture longer-term relationships with everything from potential markets for the farms produce to faculty teaching courses related to sustainable agriculture, Grese says.

Running a farm is a group effort. Moghtader sees himself as a facilitator and collaborator. “My wish list,” he says, “is to engage openly with people and hear what they have to say. I’m a deeply collaborative person, and that’s one reason that the farm manager job appealed to me.” The Campus Farm is a place where strong student leadership makes a difference, Moghtader says. “I also see the farm as a nexus of coursework and thriving learning opportunities for faculty and students,” he adds.

Alex Bryan’s position as manager of U-M Sustainable Food Program (UMSFP) falls under U-M Dining. Alex was brought in to help coordinate the many student groups on campus that are linked to food-related programs. These include Ann Arbor Student Food Co., Food Recovery Network; Friends of the Campus Farm, Maize and Blue Cupboard, UMBees, and several more. “The dining connection is related to student life,” says Alex. Food touches students’ lives in so many ways, and Alex’s mission is to bring together the several student-driven strands of the food movement on campus.
The student beekeeping group UMBees regularly meets in the Campus Farm,
where there's an apiary. When students study bees in the farm, they not only
get to observe the honeybee up close; they also make the connection between
pollination and plants and how everything in the ecosystem fits together.

Early on, students and faculty recognized the long-term need for a farm manager. And within just a few years of having the farm at Matthaei that need became even more pressing. In the first few years students and Matthaei-Nichols staff made the farm work with a series of dedicated and enthusiastic student interns who served as farm managers during the summer, and additional students who worked in a similar capacity during the school year. “We hope that with a farm manager in place we’ll be better able to focus the farm efforts and provide greater stability in farm operations from year to year, “says Grese. “While some of our staff had direct farming experience, they didn’t have the time or perhaps the right expertise to answer the kinds of questions and challenges we encountered.”

New Trend, Old Roots
If the notion of a farm on campus feels like a new idea, it’s not. Arguably the oldest campus farm in the country started at Berea College in Kentucky in 1871.

Back then the majority of U.S. jobs were in agriculture, so having a campus with a farm made sense. It was about training future farmers in a line of work that touches everyone’s life: the production of food.

Today’s super-efficient food production and growing methods allow fewer farms to produce more food. But these economies of scale come at a price, as Laura Sayre and Sean Clark explain in their book Fields of Learning: The Student Farm Movement in North America. The modern industrial farm relies on steady supplies of fresh water, cheap energy and stable climates, they write, even as those resources decline as we move into the twenty-first century. “We now have to look at new ways to farm that rely more on ‘resilience’ and ecological principles rather than industrial principles,” according to Sayre and Clark.
A few interesting facts about US farming you might not have known.

The timing is perfect for campus farms. There’s a food revolution across the land, one that opens up opportunities for young farmers, Sayre and Clark observe. The revolution is driven by concerns about the links between food production and the environment, human health, food safety, and food justice. “The emerging generation,” they conclude, “fits this food revolution very well since these farmers share many of these same concerns and desires.”

In the 12 years Moghtader worked as the director of Michigan State University’s organic farm, “the perspective on food has undergone an extreme expansion. People want to consume food that’s minimally processed, whether it’s a niche brand or on a grocery store shelf.” There’s so much national food awareness captured by people like Michael Pollan or Michele Obama, Moghtader adds. “Food and farming are such a part of who we are, with impacts that ripple outward and touch everything.”

Students on campuses everywhere are plugging into a well of interest in the environment, equality, and issues of justice surrounding food. “It’s exciting to see the intellectual engagement around food,” Moghtader says. “The Campus Farm stands as the nexus of these hopes and dreams.”

We face complex challenges for transforming food systems toward environmental sustainability and social justice, says Jennifer Blesh, assistant professor in the U-M School of Natural Resources & Environment and a member of the farm manager search committee. New approaches and a new generation of scholars and practitioners are needed who can collaborate in an interdisciplinary way, she adds. “To help students develop these competencies and skills, we need to increase opportunities for engaged and experiential learning about agriculture and all aspects of the food system.”
During the fall and winter, students gather in one of the
greenhouses at Matthaei. There will soon be a hoop house
to extend the growing season but until then students had to use
the greenhouse space at Matthaei to grow plants in the winter.

Hoop House Will Extend Growing Season and Engage Students More in the Farm
The hoop house begins to rise. Eventually, the outside
will be covered with plastic. Then plants that tolerate
some cold will be planted. Because the hoop house
extends the growing season, students will be able to
engage with the farm during the academic year. 

One highly visible part of the Campus Farm that passersby can see from the road is the new hoop house. The hoop house, Moghtader explains,  brings a a lot of diversity for growing more food over a longer season. It changes the economics and the opportunities in growing food, Moghtader says. "It also allows students to engage with growing food, because students are traditionally here during the fall and winter months and not during the growing season." The hoop house, Moghtader continues, allows you to plant to the end of October. These are cold hardy crops, he says. And while the hoop house doesn’t keep the plants from freezing it does increase the ambient temperature inside. The hoop house, also known as a passive solar greenhouse, is an agricultural concept that 's been around a long time in various forms. Think the bell jar placed over vegetables, or a cold frame used to let light in but protect plants from the cold. All of these concepts, old and new, work on the principal of using the sun to warm the interior and dramatically extend the growing season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

School of Natural Resources and Environment Students Present Their Research Projects Dec. 5-8, 2016

Students in Sheila Schueller's ecology class (NRE 509) worked on research projects that are based on pilot projects with just a few days of data collection.

The students are presenting on their work during the labs this week. Drop in anytime if you're interested in seeing what the students have discovered.

Here's a list of the projects. Check out the wide-ranging nature of topics:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Ice Rink that Wasn't at Nichols Arboretum

The UM School of Public Health's Anniversary edition of its alumni magazine Findings tells the story of the push to make Nichols Arboretum into a winter sports facility. We think it's a good idea it never happened!

Take a look at the story:

Monday, November 28, 2016

First Nations Members Visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Fifty-seven participants, representing diverse Anishinaabe, additional tribal, and U-M perspectives, visited Matthaei for a day-long series of working meetings on August 29, 2016. The strengthened relationships, years in the making, are allowing us to plan collaborative projects at the intersections of stewardship, sustainability, and survival. As funding allows, look for updates on projects like Heritage Seeds, Anishinaabe-based interpretation of Michigan Native Plants, and more.

See below image for a list of individuals appearing in photo.

Participants at the Anishinaabe, Tribal & UM partners meeting at the
UM Matthaei Botanical Gardens, August 29, 2016

57 participants were present through the day-long meeting. 31 were present for the group photo. Left to right (regardless of row):

Dr. Ben Secunda         UM NAGPRA Office
Dr. Stephanie Rowley, Professor UM School of Education and UM Office of Research
Kevin Finney              Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomie Indians / Intertribal Food Summit (meeting co-chair)
Judy Nowack              Associate Vice President for Research, UM, retired
Andy Sell                    UM SNRE graduate student
Elspeth Geiger            UM LSA graduate student
Dr. David C. Michener, UM Matthaei-Nichols (meeting co-chair)
Anita Heard                Research Center Coordinator, Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways– Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
Debbie Taylor             UM College of Engineering
Joe Reilly                    Cherokee, American Indian Health & Family Services
George Martin             Head Veteran, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomie Indians
Bob Grese                   Director, UM Matthaei-Nichols, Professor SNRE
Shannon Martin          Executive Director, Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways– Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
Sydney Martin            NAGPRA Representative, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomie Indians
Dr. James Penner-Hahn, Interim Director, UM Museum of Anthropological Archaeology
Dr. Phil Deloria           Professor, UM-LSA American Culture: Native American Studies; History
Dr. Scott M. Herron    Professor of Biology - Ferris State University, Visiting Professor – UM LSA- Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (formerly)
Dr. Sonya Atalay        Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Anishinaabe-Ojibwe)
Kristy Phillips             Citizen Potawatomie Nation
Dr. Kyle White           Professor, Michigan State University, Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Dr. Lisa Young           Lecturer and Research Associate, UM – LSA Anthropology
Mike Kost                   UM Matthaei-Nichols
Brad Kasberg              UM SNRE
Dr. Robin Kimmerer   Professor, SUNY-Syracuse; Citizen Pottawatomie Nation
Steward King              Wasauksing First Nation (Ontario)
Barbara Wall               Trent University Indigenous Studies PhD Candidate (Ontario), Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Carla May Dhillon      UM SNRE graduate student,
Ron Yob,                    Lecturer, Acquinas College, Tribal Chairman - Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians
Dr. Nastassia Vlasova, Central Botanical Gardens – Minsk, Belarus; UM – Matthaei Nichols Visiting Scholar
Catriona Mortell-Windecker, UM Matthaei-Nichols

Dr. Maria Ferria-Pontes, Fulbright Scholar (previously Wayne State University)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Autumn Splendor at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum

October brings cooler temps and a ramping up of fall colors in southern Michigan.

Over the next week or two, fall colors at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum will unfold in all their majesty. Here are some sights----big-picture and small-scale---that Matthaei-Nichols staff and volunteer photographers captured at the Gardens and Arboretum. Click on any picture to see an expanded gallery of images.

Visit the Botanical Gardens: 1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105; and Nichols Arboretum: 1610 Washington Hts., Ann Arbor. 734-647-7600. mbgna.umich.edu.

Volunteer photographer Zohair Mohsen took this shot at Matthaei Botanical
Gardens of a tiger moth caterpillar (Arctia caja) bristling with hairs.
(Photo taken 10-5-16.)

Volunteer photographer Zohair Mohsen captured the hidden beauty of
cow parsnip (
Heracleum maximum) seeds. (Photo taken 10-5-16.)

Poison ivy is a problem plant for a lot of reasons
but its fall leaves offer a bounty of subtle hues.
(Photo taken by volunteer photographer 
Zohair Mohsen: 10-5-16.)

Volunteer photographer Zohair Mohsen caught these elm leaves in
their startling transition between summer and fall. (Photo taken at
Matthaei: 10-5-16.)

The Alex Dow Field in Nichols Arboretum shows off its prairie grasses.
(Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

The Alex Dow Field in Nichols Arboretum shows off its prairie grasses.
(Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

The river front along the Huron River in Nichols Arboretum is a favorite spot for
contemplation and observation. An old box elder provides a
sitting spot for visitors. (Photo by Michele Yanga-10-7-16.)

Looking west up the Huron River along the river front at
Nichols Arboretum. (Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

Always time for a selfie at the river front in Nichols Arboretum. (Photo by Lars
Miller: 10-9-16.)

The uncharacteristically quiet valley in Nichols Arboretum. (Photo by Lars
Miller: 10-9-16.)

Numerous benches in Nichols Arboretum offer a welcome place to
rest and contemplate. (Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

The footpath along the prairie in Nichols
Arboretum is a favorite place to walk.
(Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

Why not study next to the Huron River on a
perfect fall day in the Arb?
(Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

Sumac turns a stunning red each fall. These are along the path that
circles Dow Field in Nichols Arboretum. (Photo by Lars Miller: 10-9-16.)

Hop hornbeam show its vivid yellow leaves and hop-like
seed pods. (Photo by Michele Yanga-10-7-16.)

The Gateway Garden at Matthaei blooms with vivid colors
right up to the first frost. (Photo taken 10/4/16)

Another view of the Gateway Garden at Matthaei. This garden
is a favorite of birds, butterflies, and brides, and it
blooms with vivid colors 
right up to
the first frost. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)

A viburnum at Matthaei begins to turn a beautiful shade of
purplish-red. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)

A cloud of white aster drifts across the landscape at Matthaei.
(Photo taken 10/4/16.)

Purple aster frames a bench at Matthaei.
(Photo taken 10/4/16.)

Sumac guarantees a show of red leaves each fall. (Photo taken Matthaei 10/4/16.)

White anemone stands above the landscape each fall in the perennial
garden at Matthaei. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)

Green for now, these gingko trees will turn a
dazzling gold almost all
at once as cold
weather nears. 
(Photo taken 10/4/16.)

Trees, reeds, grasses, woody shrubs, and water make a perfect fall palette
near Willow Pond at Matthaei. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)
Dogwood surprises with its purple hues at Matthaei. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)

Orange leaves against a blue sky at Matthaei. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)

A Matthaei vista with maple trees. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)

A Matthaei vista with maple trees. (Photo taken 10/4/16.)