NEW BATHROOMS TO OPEN IN OUTDOOR MICHIGAN 4-H CHILDREN’S GARDENS
From Vantage, Fall 2015
In 2014, the Michigan 4-H Foundation received a generous estate gift from Pete and Sally Smith, which not only supported endowment and general operating support for the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens but also funded the construction of new bathrooms in the outdoor Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens.
“After 22 years, we are very excited to finally be able to meet our visitors’ needs with a state-of-the-art restroom that fits the garden, is environmentally friendly and looks good outside and inside,” said Norm Lownds, Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens curator.
In 2007, Margaret Marshall Murdoch funded the creation of the Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden in memory of her sister, Mary (Sally) Marshall Smith and brother-in-law Donovan (Pete) Smith. With that gift came the promise that the Michigan 4-H Foundation and Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden would be supported by charitable remainder trusts created by the Smiths as well.
“Margaret was interested in supporting the 4-H Children’s Garden because of the good things she heard, because her sister and brother-in-law loved to garden and because she (Margaret) was an MSU graduate. We discussed doing something to honor her sister as quickly as possible – thus the Pete and Sally Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden. Longer term, we discussed doing something to make the gardens even better, and the biggest need there was restrooms and a drinking fountain.
“Margaret was dedicated to honoring her sister and brother-in-law with a garden. She became more excited about providing the facility infrastructure for the garden so that our visitors, especially families with young children, would have an even better experience that would likely encourage them to visit over and over.
“Margaret had been a teacher, so she understood the need for the best facilities,” Lownds said. “She wanted to honor and remember her sister, and she wanted to give back to her alma mater. The 4-H Children’s Gardens provided a place where all of this could happen.”
The new bathrooms are located between the outdoor 4-H Children’s Garden and the Pete and Sally Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden.
“We completed construction just in time to test and then shut the water off for the winter. We will open the bathrooms to the public in the spring,” Lownds said.
The new facility is a two-stall family restroom with sinks and drinking fountains to accommodate visitors to the gardens.
Solar tubes provide much of the daytime lighting, the faucets are automatic (solar-controlled), and the fixtures are on sensors to conserve water. Additionally, the doors lock and unlock automatically, allowing the restrooms to remain open into the evening.
The bathrooms will provide part of the east edge of the Pete and Sally Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden — plants will grow up the wall. The other side provides the backdrop for the Creation Station, which will have a new counter and sink with running water as a result of the bathroom construction.
“When designing the facility, we really took efficiency and sustainability into account,” said Jessica Wright, 4-H Children’s Gardens educational coordinator. “The designers wanted to maintain a level of whimsy with the structure, so they tried to mimic as best they could the existing Garden House structure.
“All the people that we have told about the new bathroom, both teachers and visitors, are very excited!” Wright said. “It will make everyone’s visit to the garden much more enjoyable. Moms will be able to take strollers into the bathroom; students will be able to get drinks at the drinking fountain.
“The bathrooms are going to allow visitors to the gardens to enjoy more of their visit without having to leave the garden to use the facilities. It will also increase instruction time for field trips because there will be much less disruption of activities by participants having to walk into the building,” she said.