Volunteers Make Lake Michigan Trail Bloom

By Joel Waldinger | June 19, 2018


Mariners Trail is a public recreational path that runs between Manitowoc and Two Rivers. The five and a half miles stretch out along the Lake Michigan shore. On any given day bikers, inline skaters, joggers and moms with baby strollers can be seen using the pathway. And as Judy Corrado would say, “It’s a beautiful place to be.”

It’s a place where you will often find Judy. She’s been supporting the trail since it first opened in 2004. A few years ago she couldn’t help but notice that weeds and invasive species had overtaken the once beautiful berms. Judy wasn’t about to sit by and do nothing. She went to the Two Rivers City Manager and learned the cost to upkeep the gardens had become just too expense. The next thing she knew Judy was leading the charge to get volunteers to restore the gardens.

That’s an interesting concept coming from Judy, because ask her what she knows about gardening and she will give you an unexpected answer. “Zero, oh my goodness, no formal training and not very much knowledge,” she said with a laugh. Judy admits what she doesn’t know much about plants she is learning. The idea for volunteers has blossomed into the Mariners Trail public gardens. The first year they ran an ad in the local paper and got 18 people interested in adopting a garden along the trail and it just grew and grew.

The trail now consists of 50 gardens all taken care of by volunteers. The oldest gardener, who happened to retire in 2016 was 92-years-old. School kids have also adopted a garden, along with families, book clubs, and church groups. Right now, there’s a waiting list for gardens along the trail.

Travel the trail and Judy is a familiar face tending to her own adopted garden and with little or no experience she oversees the 49 others. “Oh, it’s just so much fun. (laughs) Why not do it? I’m retired. I have the time,” Judy said. As she stuffs another geranium into the ground she says out loud, “Going to be happy, I think.” Judy’s garden can be found alongside the Woodland Drive Wayside in Two Rivers.

Seed Money to Keep Gardens Growing

Each gardener is given $50 in “seed” money to start their flower gardens and calendar contest supports the cause.

Butterfly Connection

Find out how gardeners are helping the Monarch butterfly during migration.

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 

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