TOMLINSON BARN EDUCATION CENTER Project Background & History
This Historical Barn built in 1924, has big plans to provide a one-of-a-kind space dedicated to natural resource education. The primary focus will be on the youth of the community; However, we will have education for all. Topics will include soil, water, air health, local resource concerns, conservation practices and implementation, sound environmental stewardship, urban gardening and agriculture practices.
The District had leased the barn from the county,approximately from 1994 to 2012 using it primarily for tree sales and partnered with Pheasants Forever selling chicks for pheasant re-habitation in the county. After the district ran out of funds to operate in 2012, The barn, owned by the county was and left unused through 2018 and the county commissioners voted to demolish the barn in August of 2018. Concerned citizens contacted the district about saving the Historical Landmark, so with prompting from the community we went on a campaign to "Save the Barn" We received $35,000.00 in private donations making it possible to negotiate the purchase from the county, falling short of the asking price, We received a generous donation of $25,000.00 from Dave and Patty Kepler, and In July of 2019 the commissioners voted 6-1 to sell us the barn and 5 acres.
The Midland Conservation District purchased the property and created a plan to use the barn as an education center. With the remaining funds from the purchase donations, in May of 2020 we added a new roof and just in time the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation came through with a generous $20,000.00 donation to complete the roof dormers and do excavation to remove water from the adjacent property that was flowing into the barns west end causing structural damage. In November of 2020, the District received funding from the Midland Area Community Foundation to help complete our goal to transform this special space into the "Midland Conservation District Tomlinson Barn Education Center." We had electric and water hooked up, the inside has been power washed, new steel siding, windows and doors have been added, and the support beams in the west end that were damaged by the water have been replaced, the "milk house" has been insulated and finished with heat to protect the water hook up. We removed most of the debris, created some flower gardens. In July 2021 we had experts from the Michigan Barn Preservation Network out to check the structure, they gave us a great report stating the barn was in good structural shape with no immediate issues. That report makes us feel good about saving this Historical Landmark.
Benefits to the Community
Improved Annual Reforestation Tree Sale: A district owned space, with water and area for storing, packing and distribution will enhance the effectiveness of the District's Annual Reforestation Tree Sale, resulting in an anticipated increase in participation, trees sold, and overall green space throughout the county.
Interpretive Trail: The installation of an interpretive Trail used for education on native species identification, forest management and the value of planting native.
High Tunnel and Community Garden Space:The installation of a high tunnel and a community garden will serve as a demonstration model for environmentally friendly urban gardening.
Workshops and Events: The District will have a space to host conservation related workshops, events and presentations for landowners, partners and people of all ages.
Composting edmonstration and rain collection systems are also in the plan.
Where We've Been, and Where We're Going
Goals Completed to Date Include:
Electric Hook completed June 2020
New Roof: $30,000 completed May 2020
Excavating to remove debris and stop water from flooding the barn completed June 2020
City water access hooked up completed April 2021
New Steel Siding, windows and doors completed July 2021
Forestry Mowing completed, 3.5 acres cleared for interpretive trails- August 2022
Excavation to help water flow from adjacent field to drainage ditch and removal of remaining debris completed August 2022.
What to Expect in the Near Future 2023
Family Fun Days and workshops annually May 1 through October 31. Check out our workshop/event schedule.
Garden Space, we have 12 raised gardens to grow vegetables.
Annual Reforestation Tree Sales for native trees and shrubs pre-orders due January 15 to March 31.
Native Plant Sale
Open for workshops and events.
Rainwater collection and irrigation
Interpretive trails through the forest for plant identification.
A small restroom facility
an outdoor covered classroom area
A farm market (free to local home producers wanting to sell their product according to the Michigan Cottage Law
How You Can Help
The District is now seeking donations and monetary gifts from the local community for the following needs for the property:
Supplies for Educational programs
Educational Tunnels improvements
Gardening supplies such as hoes, shovels, rakes, pots, soil, seeds
Restroom facility for the future including a septic system
Your time: we are also seeking volunteers to help us complete and carry out our vision.
Tractor and implements are needed to maintain the property. Brush hog for maintaining trails,
All donations go directly to the project. Checks can be payable to the Midland Conservation District noting Barn Project. All monetary gifts are tax deductible and can be mailed to 954 E. Isabella Rd, Midland MI 48640. Any donation amount will help us toward our goal to creating and maintaining the education space for learning, growing, and bettering our community. All donations over $100 will receive a 'Friends of the Barn' plaque posted inside the barn. Please contact District Administrator Karen Thurlow at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 989.486.2325 with any questions. Thank you for your support and participating in our efforts to serve our community, and conserve Midland County's natural resources for present and future generations!