By Sara E. Teller
MULBERRY HILL WILDLIFE (MHW) BEGAN IN 2010 with two goals in mind – to care for the environment through sustainable, wildlife-friendly agricultural practices and provide the community with healthy local food.
“The roots of Mulberry Hill Wildlife begin in the most unlikely of places,” explained Executive Director and Naturalist, Grace Vatai. On the roof of an old apartment building in Detroit lived a few potted plants and a chicken named Henny-Penny. They were tended to by Grace and her husband, Patrick, two dedicated people who would go on to start Mulberry Hill Farm & Garden in Hazel Park, the first and only organization of its kind in the area.
This organization would soon grow to include several programs including a Certified Wildlife Habitat, Monarch Waystation, nature educational components and much more. Today, MHW is home to both Mulberry Hill Farm & Garden and Mulberry Hill School.
“Mulberry Hill School provides nature education programs and opportunities including presentations, classes, and the Mulberry Hill Wildlife Nature Table,” Vatai said. “We regularly distribute informational materials to the community through social media and other outlets. Additionally, we provide a home-school program and education consultation for approved families and learners of all ages.”
The Farm & Garden portion provides doorstep delivery of wildlife-friendly produce and native plants through its Produce Delivery Membership program. Vatai explained, “We grow native wildflowers, produce and herbs. We unite people with produce from local farms that share the value of using sustainable practices whenever and wherever possible. Our survival is made possible by the land we live on.”
She added, “Our mission is to inspire, educate, and assist individuals and families in conserving and protecting wildlife while providing access to wildlifefriendly local produce, live native plants, and quality educational opportunities. These resources help establish a vital nature connection and an appreciation for all life. Our goal is to achieve a peaceful, sustainable, and healthy future for all of earth’s inhabitants.”
MHW believes that a connection with nature is key to getting people involved on a personal level and it is that personal connection that motivates them to love, value, and truly appreciate the natural world. Vatai said, “Spirit awakens in nature, and when people care personally they instinctively do their part.”
MHW’S SISTER BUSINESS, CEDAR FOREST HENNA, also contributes to its mission by helping to fund its programs and projects, and it gives MHW the opportunity to work directly with the community.
“Henna is an ancient natural art, utilizing a dye made from the Henna plant, Lawsonia intermis. While we can create almost any design, traditional Mehndi designs often incorporate nature motifs and mimic the detail, complexity, patterning, and flow so often found in nature. All proceeds from Cedar Forest Henna contribute to fulfilling our mission and help make what we do here possible,” Vatai said. Cedar Forest Henna can be requested for a variety of celebrations and occasions. Anyone interested can visit https://cedarforest.webs.com for more information.
The organization is always looking for an extra set of hands. “By connecting with us online, people can stay up-to-date on our endeavors and calls for volunteer help,” Vatai explained. “One project coming up is a new nature area in Hazel Park which we are developing through the Hazel Park Nature Initiative. We are co-authoring this initiative with Amy Aubry, Mayor Pro Tempore, and will need volunteer help as we develop new projects. We encourage people to get involved!”
Donations can be made at https://squareup.com/ store/mulberryhillwildlife and go towards the preservation of nature and wildlife through all of MHW’s endeavors, research, and projects.
“We can’t emphasize enough how much we appreciate the continued support we receive from the community,” Vatai said. “Especially as we come into spring, donations are going to make a big difference for the activities and projects we have planned. There is a lot to do and funding is vital for all of it.”