A fundraising event is planned for long-time local non-profit Row-by-Row (formerly Buckets of Rain) at Broomstack Kitchen & Taphouse in Maple City on Sunday, Sept. 24. Festivities run from 3 to 6 pm and include food, a silent auction, live music by the Dune Brothers and a tribute to the music of Gordon Lightfoot by Paul Koss, Patrick Niemisto and Chris Skellenger. Row-by-Row has been involved in food security in northern Michigan, Detroit, Guatemala, and several parts of Africa since 2007. The majority of their efforts in recent years focus on providing fresh, locally grown vegetables to area pantries and shelters via Northern Michigan Food Rescue.

Local troubadour and gardener Chris Skellenger and former Buckets of Rain treasurer Mike Binsfeld have created a new nonprofit called Row by Row, which helps economically challenged Guatemala women establish community gardens on vacant public land. Buckets of Rain previously taught bucket drip irrigation to communities in Lesotho and Detroit. Skellenger also plays guitar and sings at Boonedocks, Little Traverse Inn, French Valley Vineyard, Cherry Republic, and Lake Ann Brewery with an assortment of his musical friends. And Skellenger is the new nursery manager at the expanded Northwood’s Hardware & Garden Center in Glen Arbor. “We are so happy to have Chris Skellenger to help us get this going,” said co-owner Jeff Gietzen. “He is a skilled, legitimate nursery person.”

There is no real government support for Guatemala’s first responders. When they’re not on a fire or ambulance call, they are out in the streets getting donations in coffee cans from passing drivers to fund their meager salaries and minimal equipment. Most of them have to fight fires in jeans and t-shirts. Serious injuries are endemic to their work. When Guatemalan Fredy Maldonado showed Burdickville’s Mike Binsfeld the situation, Binsfeld stepped up the Buckets of Rain commitment to include money for fixing fire station roofs and ambulances, and to provide medicine for the community. Through his efforts and those of Leelanau County resident Kathy Fordyce and her outreach to local firefighters at the Cedar Fire Dept., desperately needed gear is now making its way to Guatemala.

Last summer’s Simon & Garfunkel tribute concert at Old Settlers’ Park was such a hit, they’re doing it again but with one major improvement. Enter “Looking Forward,” the trio made up of local favorites and all-around good guys—former Glen Lake music teachers Pat Niemisto, John Kumjian, and urban agriculturalist Chris Skellenger, of Buckets of Rain fame.

A Plow Day groundbreaking ceremony and celebration of National Historic Preservation Month will take place at the Leelanau County Poor Farm Barn in Myles Kimmerly Park near Maple City on Saturday, May 25, from 10 am until noon.

Buckets of Rain, a Leelanau-based nonprofit which aims to “support the rebuilding of Detroit by transforming blighted areas into agricultural oases” will hold a work bee on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 8:30 a.m. at the Empire United Methodist Church. Volunteers will make smoothies using locally picked apples and produce donated by Kroger.

“Creating Community: The Agriculture Connection,” a panel discussion with two local food and community activists who link local agriculture with the work of building strong, creative communities, takes place Sunday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Glen Arbor Arts Center, 6031 S. Lake St., Glen Arbor.

The Poor Farm Barn near Maple City, saved by the Leelanau County Historical Preservation Society, gets help from community partners including Buckets of Rain.

Singer-songwriter Chris Skellenger, a longtime entertainer at local watering holes, recently posted this news flash on Facebook about his nonprofit. “I just heard that starting tomorrow, Buckets of Rain is working on an urban garden with a free Muslim health clinic in the heart of one of the most destroyed parts of Detroit, a predominantly African-American community. We’re all in this together, brothers in arms.”

Again, this year, local musicians and performers are donating their time and talent to perform the Woody Guthrie classic, “This Land is Your Land” over and over (and over …) on a street corner in downtown Traverse City. They will be there, rain or shine, day and night for three straight days, singing their hearts out to help the hungry. And you can help. Buckets of Rain, the nonprofit that organized this musical marathon, provides sustainable gardens and fresh vegetables to impoverished areas of the world, including overseas and in inner-city Detroit.