SUMMIT TWP., MI – No clouds were in sight while Jackson area Army recruiters shoveled soil and removed weeds and grass from a fence at the Dahlem Center Ecology Farm on Friday, May 1.
The volunteers spent their mornings replacing chicken wire at the bottom the fence surrounding the community garden area on Wickwire Road.
“There are smaller animals getting in,” said Staff Sgt. Coby Stempien. “We’re digging all the old wire up and putting down weed barriers and rocks. Hopefully, the entire thing will be replaced by the end of summer.”
Ten men and women helped build the new barrier to help the farm continue using organic principles with no pesticides.
Jessica Andrews, a 20-year-old from Stockbridge, is headed to basic training later this month. She took the opportunity to give back to the community and volunteered with her recruiters to do the manual labor.
“It’s teamwork, which I’ll have to get used to for basic training,” Andrews said. “I already coach soccer, so I figured why not do a little more? We’re giving back to the community, and that’s what really matters.”
With 48 garden plots that are 20 feet by 20 feet, the community gardens at the Dahlem Center allows Dahlem Center members to grow kale, peppers, radishes, watermelons and other food. Rod Malloy, executive director at the Dahlem Center, said volunteers are what make the center possible.
“Because we’re a nonprofit, we can do a certain level of work,” Malloy said. “Volunteers have done the lion’s share of work. We wouldn’t be here without our volunteers.”
Mark Snedeker, facilities and weekend manager for the Dahlem Center, said the amount of hours volunteers can put in makes a large difference in the function of the nature center.
“It’s amazing what they can accomplish,” Snedeker said. “A volunteer can come here and help with a number of projects, too. In the fall with our Goblin Walks program, we put in 600 hours of volunteer time in a week.”
Stempien said he hopes the group can come back to volunteer more because it creates more teamwork between the recruiters and allows future soldiers to get out there, too.
“Being in the Army is about serving the country, so it’s important to serve your community, too,” Stempien said. “I thought it would be a neat project to do.”
- On May 8, 2015