Schumacher Farm Park’s 117 acres on Hwy. 19 just east of Waunakee includes a woods, a 10-acre prairie restoration, garden, orchard and outbuildings, all requiring ongoing maintenance throughout the year.
Last week, the Friends of Schumacher Farm Park and Dane County got some much needed help from a group of ready and willing workers.
An AmeriCorps crew with members from throughout the United States took on a number of projects there as part of their service in the Madison area.
In addition to removing invasive species and other projects, they planted a pollinator garden comprised of all native plants to be used for research and education.
Park manager Amy Jo Dusick said she partnered with the UW Madison Arboretum who has had AmeriCorps crews work there in the past and wanted to diversify their experience. Their six-week project in the area is one of several they’ll complete during the members’ 10-month service.
Cedric Wyche of New York City said the group also worked with Community Action Coalition during their stay in the Madison area.
“You learn a lot of useful skills,” he said about his AmeriCorps experience.
All of the crew members are in different stages of their lives, some taking a gap year between high school and college, and others a year off from college.
Their team leader, Alyssa Duany of Parkland, Florida, is a graduate of Florida State University embarking on her 11-month service with the AmeriCorps, which includes her training. She had worked at another nonprofit for a year and a half before learning about AmeriCorps.
“It’s invaluable experience because we’re supervising our team 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.
For the others, AmeriCorps offers the chance to learn new skills and travel. They’ll all work on projects related to urban and rural development, environmental conservation and natural disasters.
Cece Garcia of Oakhurst, California has been with the program for three years. Their first project was in South Dakota, working with a YMCA after-school program. When flooding occurred, they spent two days sandbagging. She’s loved traveling, she said.
“The great thing about being able to travel is you get to meet awesome people and come back and see them,” Garcia said.
Sydney Bell of Oswego, Illinois, has enjoyed the work and said she’s considering a major in outdoor recreation when she applies to college.
At the park, the crew’s work is much appreciated. They’ve helped mulch the orchard, adding companion plants there, and prepped the heirloom garden, as well.
“There are a lot of things we haven’t gotten to this year, and it’s very, very helpful,” Dusick said.
Each of the members have their own jobs within AmeriCorps, along with their assignments. Wyche is a recruiter, and Bell and Garcia are both media representatives.
The volunteers have felt welcome in the Madison area, they said.
“Madison is beautiful. The people are so warm and welcoming. I really appreciate how people enjoy the land and what’s offered to them,” Duany said, citing the trails at the UW Arboretum and Schumacher Farm Park.
Schumacher Farm Park is a farm museum park donated to Dane County by Marcella (Schumacher) Pendall. This summer will be exciting for the Friends group, who for years have planned the Center for Rural History in the large red barn. Work on the barn, with its park office, flush toilets and an area for receptions or group meetings, is just about complete, and a grand opening is planned for Sunday, July 14, from 4-7 p.m.
Rosa Ropers, who serves on the Friends board, described the event as a chance to “see the barn and how it might fit your needs for small receptions and business meetings.”
A number of other public events are scheduled this summer, as well. On June 15, a music festival will feature the country Americana bands, Wheel House and Back 40. A silent auction is also planned for the event, with prizes such as tickets to American Players Theater, rounds of Golf at the Meadows of Six Mile Creek and others donated by local businesses.
Schumacher Farm Park offers educational programs throughout the year for all ages, including a summer camp for children in first through fifth grades Aug. 6-8.
Volunteers throughout the community lend a hand at the park, some tending to the chickens, and others helping in the heirloom garden. One group dubbed the Chat and Chores “do things that slip the through the cracks,” Ropers said, supporting staff by handling mailings, assembling supplies for different programs and baking cookies.
For more information on events at Schumacher Farm Park or volunteering, visit schumacherfarmpark.org or find them on Facebook.