The History of Blandford
Blandford Nature Center began as Collins'' Woods, part of Collins family farm. Later, Victor Blandford purchased the farm from the Collins family and selling it off as multiple lots. In 1949, Mary Jane Dockeray began working for the Grand Rapids Public Museum as a nature lecturer and advocate in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. She often brought groups of students to Collins Woods to show them the beauty of the land and nature. Eventually, Mary Jane convinced the Blandfords to donate 10 acres of land to the Museum for the development of a nature center with Mary Jane as the curator. In the summer of 1965, the Museum Association agreed to help seek the funds necessary for building a nature center, which opened in the fall of 1968. Later that year, the Michigan Recreational Bond Fund provided money for land purchase, bringing the acreage up to 143 acres total.
In 2003, the Public Museum transferred Blandford to the Grand Rapids Public Schools due to budget cuts. As the Public Schools also began to face budget cuts and the Nature Center threatened closure, Blandford merged in July 2007 with an organization called Mixed Greens, finally becoming an independent non-profit.
As one unified nonprofit, Blandford Nature Center and Mixed Greens hopes to further develop and strengthen innovative approaches to delivering outdoor, educational programming with a focus on the urban Grand Rapids community.
The vision of the Blandford Nature Center & Mixed Greens is to cultivate nourish and sustain a generation of leaders, citizens and communities who have a deep relationship with the land and therefore embrace and advocate for sustainable living.