Interlochen to offer “Education in the Garden” summer classes

Free classes will focus on nature-based artwork, hands-on sustainability projects, and cooking with local chefs, nutritionists, and culinary experts.

RB Annis Botanical Lab

Building on its legacy of fostering a sustainable campus, Interlochen Center for the Arts will offer a series of outdoor classes for adults this summer at the R.B. Annis Botanical Lab and Community Garden, a complex on the Interlochen campus where students study botany, agriculture, and ecology. 

Classes will focus on nature-based artwork, hands-on sustainability projects, and cooking with local chefs, nutritionists, and culinary experts. All programs are free and open to the public; advance registration is required. In accordance with Interlochen’s COVID-19 health-and-safety protocols, classes will be limited to 12 participants and masks and social distancing will be required. (Campus access will be limited to the R.B. Annis Botanical Lab and Community Garden.)

“We are so thrilled to invite local community members into our garden to learn, create art, eat delicious, locally-sourced food, and reconnect with nature,” said Interlochen Director of Sustainability Emily Umbarger. “Summer is a glorious season in northern Michigan and an ideal time to recommit to caring for the natural world.”

This summer will mark the opening of the R.B. Annis Botanical Lab and Community Garden’s new outdoor kitchen, which was made possible through a grant from the Allen Foundation. The kitchen encompasses a pizza oven, a 42-inch rotisserie grill, four burners, and two counters. 

It’s the latest expansion to the outdoor complex, which also includes an 800-square-foot botanical laboratory and greenhouse powered by solar and heated with geothermal energy; two 800-foot hoop houses; a chicken coop; an aquaponics unit; an educational apiary with four beehives; and a student-designed and installed fruit yard with an orchard, brambles, and a vineyard.

ART & CULTURE IN THE GARDEN | 6-8 p.m. | Second Wednesday of the month

June 9: Baagadowe in the Garden
The modern sport of lacrosse has its origins in the traditional games of Native communities, including those here in the Great Lakes. Regarded as something more than a game, the Great Lakes version called “Baagadowe” has a deep meaning and significance to those who played it and continue to play today. The historical aspects of the game will be discussed along with the sports’ resurgence in Native communities, as well as the construction of traditional Great Lakes-style lacrosse sticks.

July 14: Sensory Poetry in the Garden
Spend a moment of silence to discover the transformative power of observations in nature. Craft your own poem inspired by the rich beauty of nature. Feel yourself surrounded by the buzz of bees, the splash of color all around you, the earthy soil beneath your feet, and the scent of herbs fresh in the air. Come write, observe, and share in this immersive poetry experience! All materials will be provided.

August 11: Repurposed Materials
We’ll be using some repurposed materials and up-cycling them into natural beauties to bring eco-art to our garden space—and yours! All materials will be provided.

September 8: Photography in the Garden
Participate in an introductory photography class designed for amateur photographers, using nothing more than your smartphone. Grab your phone, be inspired by our natural gardenscape, and fall in love with nature and photography! Students are asked to bring their own smartphones.

LEARNING IN THE GARDEN | 6-8 p.m. | Third Wednesday of the month

June 16: Logs to Lumber
The tree service came, and now I have all these logs. What do I do? Don’t let those logs be destined for the fire pit! With some simple tools and a little know-how and planning, you too can turn logs into lumber! Come join us to discover how to process your logs to use in all of your home DIY projects.

July 21: Soil Health for Backyard Gardening
Are you interested in getting the most out of your backyard garden? By exploring the building blocks of soil, this course will provide an introduction to soil health and ways to optimize your local soils. Like humans, soils are happiest when they have the right amounts of water, air, and certain nutrients. We will learn how to attain and maintain an ideal soil composition for a variety of gardening purposes.

August 18: Being Sustainable at Home
What can we do to be more sustainable at home? We will discuss ways that each of us can consider our carbon footprint and the impacts we have on the environment. Join us for 10 tips and tricks on how to be more sustainable at home.

September 15: Native plants of northern Michigan
We are surrounded by an abundance of flowering plants in Northern Michigan. In this class you will learn about what plants are native here and how they can be a part of your home landscape.

CHEFS IN THE GARDEN | 6-8 p.m. | Fourth Wednesday of the month

June 23: Spring Savory Crepes 
Join culinary artist and registered dietician Laura McCain on a delicious egg-loving adventure. With simple fillings like soft scrambled eggs and quick sautéed asparagus, this event will be rich with culinary memories from her trip to France in June 2019.

July 28: Eat the Rainbow
Join chef Loghan of Planted Cuisine and understand how you can turn your fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits into every imaginable dish with a few simple techniques and fundamentals.

August 25: Inspiration from Provence
Join local journalist and chef Madeleine Vedel for a culinary experience inspired by her years-long friendship with her beekeeper in Provence. Explore recipes with a touch of honey, fresh flavors, and love.

September 22: Roll Models
Rolls Rice is a Michigan-based food business specializing in vegan and gluten-free spring rolls, rice bowls, and sauces. In this class, they will demonstrate how to make their famous spring rolls and discuss their passion for working with their community.

Advance registration is required for Education in the Garden offerings. To register, email Emily Umbarger at