Garden arches made from steel and donated garden tools at the Campus Farm at Matthaei were designed by former intern and student worker Kat Shiffler. Left to right, the arches frame the straw bale house at the farm; show the hoop houses at the farm in the background; and invite visitors to the farm up the hill from the main road around the Matthaei Botanical Garden landscapes.
The latest installation near the University of Michigan Campus Farm complex at Matthaei may not be edible, but it is a feast for the eyes. It’s a series of steel arches topped with artfully arranged garden tools. Locally crafted by Great Lakes Metal Fabrication, the arches in this “ribbon farm pathway” invite visitors to enter what feels like a door to another place.
The arches are part of a larger project, according to Kat Shiffler, a former Matthaei-Nichols intern, Campus Farm student worker, and current grad student in landscape architecture at the University of Michigan. Shiffler worked with now-retired Matthaei-Nichols Director Bob Grese and Jeremy Moghtader, farm program manager, to create greater connectivity between the farm landscape and the gardens.
“When Jeremy and I started working together nearly three years ago,” says Shiffler, “he presented me with what I interpreted as an intriguing design challenge for the Campus Farm: How do you connect the world of perennial plants at the core of the botanical gardens with the largely annual food crops of the Campus Farm?”
With support from the University of Michigan Graham Sustainability Institute and the Michael Cameron Dempsey Fund, Shiffler led an interdisciplinary team that collaborated with three renowned experts from tribal nations. In 2019 the group participated in a three-week public workshop series on ethobotany hosted at the Campus Farm.
Detail of the garden arches at the Campus Farm at Matthaei. The arches are made from steel and donated garden tools and were designed by former intern and student worker Kat Shiffler.