Volunteers make a difference at the Henry Ford Estate

Photo courtesy of the Henry Ford Estate — Fair Lane
Volunteers Ruth Warner, Dave Metzner, Kathy Adamski and Linda Noble work in the Blue Garden.

Special to the Times-Herald

Have you ever wondered, “How can I make a difference in my community?”

If so, then visit the Henry Ford Estate — Fair Lane on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus on a Monday or Friday morning and meet some of the very dedicated volunteers who offer a clear and satisfying answer to that question.

The estate has been fortunate over the years to have the assistance of many great volunteers. Although the estate buildings are temporarily closed to the public, the grounds remain open to hundreds of strolling visitors. Therefore, estate staff rely heavily on volunteers to help with research and occasional presentations, while also helping maintain the gardens and grounds.

Corporate group volunteers from Ford Motor Co. and local Scout troops often assist with special garden projects, as well. Both individual volunteers and groups are needed throughout the growing season to keep the gardens and grounds presentable for public enjoyment.

Public enjoyment of the gardens and grounds continues as UM-D works to transfer ownership of the estate to a new non-profit entity associated with the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.

The Henry Ford Estate also recently joined the American Public Gardens Association in the hopes of increasing public awareness of its unique history and value as a public garden in an otherwise urbanized environment.

The estate gardens offer a glimpse of the past, especially in the Blue Garden where Monday garden volunteers often are hard at work.

The planting design, envisioned by landscape architect Jens Jensen, allows for natural processes to play a role in the picturesque landscape. The estate staff continues to collaborate with UM-D’s naturalists and others in the community interested in fostering a sustainable natural environment, as well as a beautiful landscape.

The estate gardens are supported by individual gifts, grants, plant sales, program revenue, and donations from organizations like the Henry Ford Heritage Association and the Garden Club of Dearborn. Clara Ford was the first president of the Garden Club of Dearborn in 1915 and her legacy of giving back to the community continues with the club’s annual support of garden restoration and student internships.

The estate gardens and grounds are open to the public from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Go to www.henryfordestate.org for updates, photography policy and contact information.

(Karen Marzonie is landscape manager at the Henry Ford Estate — Fair Lane.)