Celebrating the Gaffield Children's Garden

The Gaffield Children’s Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens will celebrate its 15th year in 2024! Join us as we celebrate this significant milestone.

The Ways of Play:  15 Years of Gaffield Children's Garden

As we mark the 15th anniversary of the Gaffield Children’s Garden at the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, we celebrate the joy, curiosity, and growth fostered by the unique concept of Nature Play. This celebration is not just about reflecting on a decade and a half of memories, but also an affirmation of our mission to nurture ecological and social resilience through immersive, interactive natural experiences.

We invite you to join in these celebrations, to see firsthand the immense value of Nature Play, and to participate in the continued growth and success of the Gaffield Children’s Garden. 

Celebrate with us!

Art for the Earth Youth Workshops

Various dates March - April

Middle and high school youth are invited to participate in one of four Youth Art for the Earth workshops, the completed artworks of which will be displayed during MBGNA’s Youth Art exhibition. These workshops will be offered at no cost, with all necessary materials provided. 

“Ways of Play” Symposium 

Saturday, April 13

A day-long event celebrating childhood outdoor play as essential for healthy human development, a pathway to adult pro-Earth behavior, and a deep practice of powerful self-directed learning, while also fostering dynamic regional partnerships, access to nature, and equitable natural experiences.

Refugia Festival 

Saturday, April 20 – Sunday, April 21 

A two-day sound and ecological restoration festival at Nichols Arboretum.

Art for Earth: Youth-Driven Art Exhibition 

Saturday, June 8 – Sunday, August 25 

An in-person exhibit that showcases the incredible talent of our community’s young artists. Join us in celebrating the endless possibilities of young minds, as they bring their visions to life through art.

“Big Play” Arb Takeover 

Sunday, June 23 

Join us for a day of big play at Nichols Arboretum’s Nature Play Day! Dive into the natural world with open-ended participation and guided activities.

Things With Wings 

Sunday, July 28 

Join us for a free youth-centered celebration of our native birds, pollinators, and the vital ecosystems they sustain.

Pumpkins, Lanterns & Leaves 

Friday, October 11 & Saturday, October 12 

Embrace the autumn spirit at Matthaei Botanical Gardens’ Gaffield Children’s Garden as we welcome young ones and their families to revel in nature play, create crafts, wander through our enchanting jack-o’-lantern trail, partake in a dazzling parade of lights, and delight in an evening filled with festive fun.


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