2018-09-13 / Life in Leelanau

Garden walk raises $883 for Cedar fire


ffi “HEAVENLY” GARDEN Walk volunteers Sandy Fox, on left, and Mary Taylor welcome visitors as they entered the gardens Saturday in Cedar. Funds raised from the walk will be donated to Cedar Area Fire & Rescue. ffi “HEAVENLY” GARDEN Walk volunteers Sandy Fox, on left, and Mary Taylor welcome visitors as they entered the gardens Saturday in Cedar. Funds raised from the walk will be donated to Cedar Area Fire & Rescue. Sunshine and seasonable temps on Saturday provided perfect conditions for a garden stroll that also served as a fundraiser for the Cedar Area Fire & Rescue.

The Cedar-based emergency services department that serves the four surrounding townships needs equipment. The “Heavenly” Garden Walk was the second fundraising event to raise donations.

“We didn’t know the need was so great,” said Father Ken Stachnik, the designer and gardener of the heavenly gardens. “None of us did. And when I was asked if they could use the gardens, I said, ‘Why not?’”

The generous offer allowed visitors to wander through two acres of groomed grass paths skirted with flowers of almost every color in the rainbow.


SITTING ATOP his John Deere mower, long-time Cedar resident Ray Stachnik visits with attendees and volunteers at Saturday’s “Heavenly” Garden Walk held at his home. SITTING ATOP his John Deere mower, long-time Cedar resident Ray Stachnik visits with attendees and volunteers at Saturday’s “Heavenly” Garden Walk held at his home. Stachnik saves seeds from the flowers each year to plant new seedlings the following year.

With such variety and so many flowers, it’s obvious Stachnik has put hours and a lot of love into the garden. When asked how much time it took, he simply replied he works in the yard just about every evening.

Ray Pleva, a former volunteer with Cedar Fire & Rescue who thought of the idea to have a garden walk to raise funds, helped at the event. He jokingly shared the “secret” to Father Ken’s beautiful flowers: “He uses holy water,” Pleva said.

Whatever that secret, people started showing up before the official noon start.


STANDING IN one of his favorite places in the garden he so meticulously tends, Father Ken Stachnik smiles in the Saturday sunshine during the “Heavenly” Garden Walk. STANDING IN one of his favorite places in the garden he so meticulously tends, Father Ken Stachnik smiles in the Saturday sunshine during the “Heavenly” Garden Walk. “It’s been a steady flow,” Pleva said. “People are enthused, not only coming to the garden walk, but some have given extra donations.”

He added that visitors are impressed by the size of the garden. “The next biggest garden in the state is Meijer Gardens. People walk by and think it looks nice, but don’t realize just how big it is,” Pleva said.

The “Heavenly” Garden Tour raised $833 for the Cedar Area Fire & Rescue.

But the finish line is still a long way off as the department needs much more money to buy equipment. So other events are already in the works, including a raffle that’s underway.

Raffle tickets are being sold at Cedar area businesses for $10 a ticket until Oct. 13. The first prize winner will receive $5,000.

— Photos and story by Jen Murphy

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