SWMAR REALTORS Association Awarded Placemaking Grant to Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum in South Haven

The Bailey Museum, located at 903 Bailey Avenue, South Haven received a $1,300 Placemaking micro-grant from the Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS provided to them from the National Association of REALTORS to help make South Haven a better place to live and work by transforming public spaces into vibrant community places. The grant is intended to help Realtor Associations partner with others to plan, organize, implement and maintain placemaking activities in their communities.

The Bailey Museum will use the grant to complete a signage project that will highlight the living collections of plants that are the legacy of Dr. Liberty Hyde Bailey, the father of American horticulture. The signs will be designed by the volunteer museum staff and will allow visitors to wander the gardens and interpret the plant collections on a self-guided tour.

Anne Long, Board of Directors Chair, explained, “Without the presences of a gardener in residence, many of our guests do not have questions about the garden answered. With signs that give the Latin and English names and descriptions, guests will be able to wander the gardens anytime and learn the historical value and accomplishments of Dr. Bailey. The gardens are open year-round and are accessible to foot traffic and wheelchair access. Admission is free to visit the gardens.”

The Bailey Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about Liberty Hyde Bailey through the preservation of his birth-site home, interpreting his philosophies of land ethics and the appreciation of the natural world in our everyday life. The project is expected to start at the end of April and be completed in June.

Over the last four years, Dr. David Fenske, Master Gardener in Residence, has worked diligently to create gardens that illustrate Bailey’s work. The gardens were developed using heirloom vegetables and perennials that were common in Bailey’s era. To ad curb appeal, unique pieces of art were added. The Hodgman family of South Haven donated a new irrigation system and sodded the lawn area. The addition of signs will be the last step in the overall project.

Meryl Greene, Coldwell Banker Weber Seiler, South Haven was the Realtor sponsor for the Bailey Museum grant. Green explained the reason for her endorsement, “The Bailey Museum is a destination point of landscape and gardens that reflect South Haven’s native son, Liberty Hyde Bailey, and his philosophies that reflect practical horticulture. I take great pride in watching the museum grow and expand into a hub for our community.”

“Realtors® live, work and volunteer in their communities and take immense pride in working to improve them,” said Paul Dumke, President, Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors®, Inc. “Placemaking can help foster healthier, more social and economically viable communities. It creates places where people feel a strong stake in their neighborhoods and are committed to making things better. This grant will allow us to address areas in our communities that are in need of improvement or redevelopment and create a place where friends and neighbors can come together.”

Placemaking grants are awarded to local and state Realtor® associations to help them and their members initiate placemaking projects in the community, like turning a parking lot into a farmer’s market or a vacant lot into a playground. Realtor® associations and their Realtor® members are actively engaged in the community and know the neighborhoods and the properties that would benefit most from these improvement efforts.

“As the South Haven area becomes more attractive and welcoming, nearby properties may also increase in value,” stated Dumke. 



The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Van Buren, Berrien and Cass counties.  The Association is located at 3123 Lake Shore Drive St. Joseph, MI 49085, (269) 983.6375.  They can also be contacted through their web site, www.swmar.com.


To find out more about National Association of Realtors® placemaking grants visit, realtoractioncenter.org/Placemaking.


The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, located in Bailey's birthplace and childhood home and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the life, work, and legacy of Liberty Hyde Bailey. The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum Memorial Fund, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation dedicated to telling the story of America’s Father of Modern Horticulture, the Founder of the New Agrarian Philosophy, and South Haven’s Favorite Son, Dr. Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jr. The museum is located at 903 Bailey Avenue, South Haven, MI 49090. The museum can be contacted by phone at (269) 637-3751 or through their website libertyhydebailey.org. If you would like more information about this organization please contact Bailey Museum, at (269) 637-3251.


According to the museum’s website, Liberty Bailey Jr. grew up on the first commercial fruit orchard in a community now famous for its peaches, blueberries, and apples. He was deeply influenced by these early years; as an older man, on a visit to his hometown for a lecture and poetry reading, he said that all of his poetry “came from South Haven.” He grew up working on the farm, playing in the woods and along the creek that ran through the property and trapping passenger pigeons with his Potawatomi neighbors. No one knew then that young “Lib,” who was mainly known in South Haven as the best apple grafter in town, would leave the farm to become a world-renowned scientist, philosopher, and visionary leader.


Bailey attended Michigan Agricultural College (or MAC, now known as Michigan State University). There he met the love of his life a fellow student named Annette Smith and began in earnest his studies in horticultural botany—still an experimental area. Most academic botanists at this time did not concern themselves with horticultural—or cultivated—plants, considering horticulture an art that belonged to a “lower” class of people. Bailey had a different opinion. After graduating and completing a brief stint working in the herbarium of preeminent botanist Asa Gray at Harvard University, Bailey returned to his alma mater to chair the nation’s first Department of Horticulture and Landscape Gardening. He designed the first academic hall at MAC devoted to horticulture.


For more details about Bailey’s life, visit the museum’s website libertyhydebailey.org.