When it comes to learning, a lot hangs on keeping students engaged. So when DTE wanted to make a difference with local students, making reading time special was a natural choice. Enter the hammock garden, a resource that lets kids connect with the outdoors while diving into their favorite stories.

Introduced in Novi last year, the hammock gardens are used when children are reading as a class. The garden is made up of 24 posts that can support more than two dozen hammocks. Installed by DTE amongst trees near the school garden and playground at Novi Woods Elementary, the school takes care of the hammocks themselves. After class is out, the community can bring hammocks and enjoy a unique way to relax outside.

A child enjoys the hammock garden at Deerfield Elementary.

The gardens are installed with safety in mind. Posts were installed so that hammocks would only be three feet from the ground. DTE also installed any mulch provided by the schools underneath the hammocks.

The project at Novi Woods was such a success that DTE wanted to help the district expand the resource to other campuses. Helmed by Vivian Reid, DTE’s environmental specialist, we worked with the district to identify two more schools that were a good fit for hammock gardens before the current school year started.

The projects at Deerfield Elementary and Orchard Hills Elementary were completed in August with support from various departments at DTE, school volunteers and school staff. While the projects are complete, the students are just beginning to reap the benefits. But they’re benefits DTE hope children and the community can embrace for years to come.

“I’m proud to be a part of the hammock garden projects,” Reid said. “I hope it provides a positive contribution to the students’ learning environment as an outdoor space where they can decompress and enjoy the fresh air.”

Volunteers install posts for the hammock garden at Orchard Hills.