Intergenerational efforts bring blooms to Downtown

Even with the chilly spring mornings in Northern Michigan, nature always finds a way to bloom, and here in lovely Petoskey, we’re lucky enough to have intergenerational efforts ready to aid Mother Nature. Now that the spring season appears to have finally made its official entrance, the Petoskey Area Garden Club and St. Francis Xavier School students will be putting their green thumbs to work.

Photo curtesy of Petoskey Area Garden Club Facebook

To better understand these separate yet collaborative efforts that promote civic and environmental responsibility, let’s start at the roots. Founded in 1934, the Petoskey Area Garden Club works to beautify Downtown Petoskey by planting and maintaining flowers and trees at the entrances to Petoskey and at public buildings and parks, improving the appearance of our great city while also creating interest in gardens and the joyful pastime of nurturing a growing, living thing.

Through design efforts, creativity, year-round planning, and good old-fashioned elbow grease, the Club manages seven distinct gardens and flower beds in Downtown Petoskey, and it also assists the City with planting its raised concrete planters. Club members plant bulbs in the spring and fall, weed and prune in the summer, and prep the garden beds for annual hibernation when the floral season draws to a close. Each unique green space has its own special needs, and thanks to Siegrist Greenhouse of Boyne Falls, the Club finds the perfect flowers and greenery every year.

Throughout its decades of service, the Club has made local contributions to commemorate some of its special anniversaries, such as raising funds to build the gazebo in Pennsylvania Park and installing the Blue Star Memorial Plaque in Pennsylvania Park.

In honor of its 90th anniversary this year, the Club and its 81 members are hosting a gala event on June 24 at Petoskey’s Bay View Country Club and creating a float for the Downtown Petoskey Fourth of July Parade to promote the Club and raise awareness of its ongoing aims.

Another great effort worth noting on the Club’s behalf is a new development that will further cement the organization’s legacy in Downtown Petoskey.

“We have been trying to get a children’s garden for a few years and just recently paid for an aerial rendering of one that the City has now added to their master plan for parks and recreation,” shared Sharon Schappacher, Petoskey Area Garden Club Treasurer. “The City will be working on getting some grants to make it happen, and the new garden will be stationed by the train depot in Arlington Park.”

Now, speaking of children, every year, the students at St. Francis Xavier School participate in a planting project to help enhance the visual appeal of the Downtown area, adding to our community’s vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.

“Students regularly participate in acts of service in multiple ways throughout the year,” said Sierra Hoffman, St. Francis Xavier School staff member. “We are always looking for ways to give back to the community and teach the importance of this at St. Francis Xavier.”

Hoffman, the liaison between St. Francis Xavier School and the City, shared that this annual planting project has been going on for 20 or so years, with some school staff remembering when their now-full-grown children participated. Students in first through eighth grade participate in a fun field trip to plant flowers at the foot of City trees that punctuate the Downtown sidewalks.

“From this project, the students learn the importance of caring for their community and helping out,” added Hoffman. “They take pride in their work and are excited to watch their flowers grow over the summer.”

This labor of love is an intergenerational effort on behalf of Downtown Petoskey. It is all about getting your hands dirty and giving back to the community year after year. As spring continues to unfold, you’ll no doubt see members of the Petoskey Area Garden Club tending to gardens, and on June 6, keep a lookout for the civic-minded youth in red shirts as they do their part in making our Downtown an even more beautiful place.

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