Carr community helps build garden to remember boys who drowned

October 11, 2013
The garden project

The garden project

Fundraiser is Saturday.

By Stephanie Wagner. MCP Writer.

LOGAN TWP. – Carr Settlement is a small close-knit community that straddles the border between Lake and Mason counties. Those who live there place high value on being “neighborly,” with roots that grow deep under 100-year-old farms.

troyer boysLast Spring, a new family, the Troyers, moved into the area, bridging the old farming tradition with a new product – camels. They got to work on their new home, adding a pond to the usual pots and pans of a homestead.

Then, on Aug. 1, 2013, every parent’s worst nightmare happened. Their two oldest sons, Jethro, 9, and Leander, 7, went out to gather flowers and feathers for their mother on the property. They were found, drowned, in the pond after they didn’t respond to calls to come in for dinner.

The response from the neighbors was immediate. Some had not even yet met the Troyer family, yet they showed up to the farm with food, condolences, and offers to help.

Blake and Anna Mazurek, who own and operate Carr Creek Hops Farm near the Troyer’s, had met the young boys shortly before the accident.

“Jethro was the kind of kid you were just drawn to.” Anna remembered. “The first time I met him, he just melted my heart.”

Another neighbor, Betty Savich, echoed Anna’s sentiment. “The boys were so kind and intelligent. They could tell you everything about the farm, the camels…..they were just wonderful.”

In the weeks immediately following the accident, the Carr Settlement community searched desperately for a way to ease the pain of the Troyer family. Meals were brought in, every night, for six solid weeks. Neighbors stopped by to check in. When Marlin Troyer decided that he wanted to have the pond filled in, a work day was quickly organized to help with the emotional task.

The Troyer family is no stranger to the culture of community. They belong to the Mennonite faith, which places a high value on supporting each other through good times and bad.

“When they had the funeral, I was amazed”, said Anna. “People came from everywhere – they even brought big busses from the Amish and Mennonite communities. It was an all day affair – a lot of the people who came had never even met the family – but every one of them went up to shake the parents’ hands and say good-bye to the boys. I remember thinking to myself that these people were doing it right.”

It was this that inspired Anna to become involved in actively supporting the Troyers. “We live in Grand Rapids part of the year. You don’t see that kind of community there. I was devastated, and wanted to do something to help. Everybody did.”

A local church, The Evergreen Church, started bringing people together to talk about what could be done. And that is where the idea for the Memorial Garden was born.

“I think it was actually Marlin’s idea,” recalls Betty, “but I’m not sure at this point. It doesn’t matter – no one wanted him to have to look out where the pond had been with bad feelings. And he wanted to give something back to the community. “

Schmock’s Landscaping of Ludington was called in to help with the design. Marlin wanted to make sure that the garden was a place where others could gather and remember the boys, as well as continue to nurture the strong relationships between neighbors. It was important to him that the land be useful and productive as well.

The final design includes a waterfall and koi pond in the shape of a heart, with a 30-feet by 30-feet seating area made from engraved pavers. It will include the boys’ names on the stones, as well as verses from scripture to offer comfort and reflection. Framing the patio will be fruit trees, berry bushes, and grape vines. There has even been talk of an annual harvest picnic where the community can enjoy what is grown there.

“I have been part of about seven or eight of these types of projects over the years,” said Travis Schmock, the project manager for the garden, “and I have never seen anything like this one. Usually, people are really excited in the beginning, then the motivation wears off. Not this one – everyone just keeps getting more and more into it. “

Travis says the design has changed and evolved as it has grown, and he is amazed at the number of people who have stepped forward to help. “This is normally an $18,000 to $20,000 project, but I am doing everything I can to keep costs down.” He said community members have shown up with equipment, volunteered to donate labor, and suppliers have stepped up to reduce costs on materials.

“This is really unique, and I just want to be a part of it. “ Travis and his crew are usually booked out about six months in advance, but have made it a priority to finish the garden before it snows. “We can plow snow at night, and lay pavers in the day if we have to. We have done it before.”

At this point, what is most needed are the finances to do the hardscaping portion of the work. “Phase 1 was the water feature, and that’s done. Now we need to get the pavers down. Then we will be ready to plant.”

The total for the project, even with reductions on the cost of materials and donated labor, is still estimated to be between $8,000 and $10,000.

The first fund raising effort is scheduled this Saturday, on the Troyer family farm.

“We know that we are going to have to do more than one fundraiser,” Betty said. “Marlin wanted to make sure this first one was fun and that it included something for the whole family. “

An entrance fee of $5 gets your family into the farm, located at 8380 S. Tyndall Road, where pony cart rides, hay rides, and camel rides will all be available for a second $5 donation between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., a spaghetti dinner will be served for $10 a plate, with kids under 12 eating free.

Online donations, as well as cash donations, are being accepted as well for those who can’t make it to the event.

The Evergreen Church has set up a special fund to collect donations. Checks can be made out to The Evergreen Church, Troyer Memorial Garden, and sent to 7043 South Evergreen Road, Branch, MI 49402.

The online site is, and a facebook page has been created to follow the progress of the garden as well at




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