By Sue Moore
On the last day of school, 22 VHS seniors in Dr. Noreen Heikes’ horticulture class planted 10 fruit trees at the Mill, completing a year-long project.
Planting five pear and five apple trees completed a year-long study by the 28 students in the class. In the fall, the students visited an 80-acre site on the west side of the former Simpson Mill property to decide where they wanted to plant the edible forest, testing soil for various nutrients. “It was probably a lot more science than the students expected they were going to get by taking this class,” Heikes said.
They figured out the varieties they wanted to plant as part of their legacy to the community. “They will be able to return here with their grandchildren someday and show them the results of their time in class,” Heikes said. “The mill consumed a lot of trees while making paper. This is one small way of paying it back.”
“The mill is undergoing a re-genesis in the next few years. It was the foundation of employment for the village. The fruit trees we have chosen are now part of this regeneration,” she said. A $2,500 grant was written by Heikes to purchase trees and fencing. Funds were provided by the Michigan Association of School Boards and SETSEG, an insurance and employee benefits nonprofit company.