Canopy Project

“BELL’s Perennial Walkway and Canopy Project.”


There is a desire to finish the outside of the Life Lab.  The venture is called the “BELL’s Perennial Walkway and Canopy Project.” This undertaking has three components, they are: enclosure of an existing canopy, a paver walkway, and perennial gardens.   The perennial gardens are designed to attract birds and butterflies and for their natural beauty.  There will be 13 gardens of various colors around the BELL structure.  A paver walkway is to be built to make for easier viewing of the gardens. Once the paver walkway is completed, 12 additional gardens will be created along an existing wall of the elementary building.  The third component of this project is to enclose the canopy to the outside entrance of the BELL.  A desire is for elementary students working with our local FFA Chapter to do as much of the labor as possible. This partnership of students will give ownership to the project, as well as a sense of pride with community service. Student participation has been and will be a vital part of the total BELL project vision.    The project cost of the Blissfield Environmental Life Lab “BELL’s Perennial Walkway and Canopy Project” is estimated at $30,000.  Our student’s labor will be a cost cutting factor of about $10,000.  When this phase of the BELL project is complete the outside vision will be realized.  Our goal is to find partners to see the three components mentioned completed. 

The most needed portion of the project is the enclosure of the canopy. To finalize the enclosure, a bid for $10,000 has been received for the materials and an additional $6770 for labor. Having volunteers do the work, we plan saving the labor cost.    The covered canopy enclosure will need more technical adult support.  The clear acrylic panels will allow protection against the elements year round and for easy viewing of a number and ABC gardens.  Our new school security policy requires all outside doors to be locked.  This enclosure will allow for doors leading from the outside to be locked and provide for an enclosed winter entrance to the lab without going through a regular classroom. Plans for the covered canopy includes high-school students and FFA members working under adult supervision. Adults will work closely with a high school senior who will give direction as project coordinator.  The student is a cadet teacher in the elementary working as the BELL’s lab technician.  He has been involved with the construction of several projects, including building of the pond stream, butterfly house wall and spring bulb plantings.  He has also been a guide to life lab during several tours.  We are very fortunate to have him as cadet this year.  The greenhouse material is a simple building medium to work with, and students under adult supervision will construct the walls

In the fall of 2003, a grant was requested for the 13 perennial color gardens around the Life Lab.  Visteon of Ypsilanti, Michigan, graciously responded and granted funds for the perennial garden portion of this project.  During the 2003-2004 school year, this part of the plan was completed.  The Visteon Grant allowed for fall mulching of prepared gardens, decorative stone to mark the 13 garden borders, planting material, perennial plugs and tools to be used during and after the project.  Perennial plugs purchased were grown in the BELL, which were started in February.  Elementary students planted the plugs, cared for them and finally transplanted plants to the gardens in the spring.  We are fortunate to have a master gardener and local greenhouse manager helping with the plantings.

Wilbur-Ellis of Blissfield and the Blissfield PTO contributed to the paver walkway.  Thanks to their generous support, High school students worked with 500 elementary students to complete this portion of the project in the spring of 2005.  It was exciting to see the service learning project take place and the enthusiasm of both groups of students working together.  It was a very profitable day.  The gardens are now easily viewed by visitors and students. 

Our school district is looking for funds to complete the canopy part of this project.  Interested individuals should contact Gary Koppelman at: