Saline Historical Society Dedicates Rentschler Farm Gardens in Taylor Jacobsen's Name

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The family of Taylor Jacobsen is pictured in front of the shed in the Taylor Jacobsen Memorial Garden.

Members of the community gathered Saturday to recognize the thousands of hours of volunteer work  performed at the Rentschler Farm Museum by the late Taylor Jacobsen.

Jacobsen, who died in 2021 at the age of 84 in 2021, touched many people in many different ways. For some, they knew him as their high school art teacher. Others took painting classes from him through Community Education, or from him and his wife Charlene at Saline Mills. Others spent hours with him volunteering in Detroit with Cass Community Services.

On Saturday, it was the Saline Area Historical Society's turn to pay tribute to Jacobsen. Jacobsen was an active and dedicated member of the society and volunteered countless hours at the Rentschler Farm Museum, the city-owned museum operated by the society.

The colorful garden has been named the Taylor Jacobsen Memorial Garden. The bright red shed features a sign and portrait of Jacobsen.

Dean Girbach is connected to the Rentschler Farm Museum in two ways. First, he's a long-time member of Saline City Council. The city owns the farm. Second, he's the President of the Saline Area Historical Society, which operates the museum. Girbach first knew Jacobsen as an art teacher in Saline schools. And then he got to know Jacobsen as an uber volunteer.

"He was one of the most dedicated volunteers in the community - and the friendliest person you'll ever meet," Girbach said.

Jacobsen was responsible for plowing the garden every spring. He built and painted and repaired fences. He helped connect with Food Gatherers to donate the produce from the garden. He brought the chickens and geese to the farm and cared for them. He painted sheds. This list goes on and on.

Jim Peters spent many mornings at the Rentschler Farm Museum working on projects, caring for animals and swapping stories with Jacobsen. Peters called Jacobsen the ultimate volunteer.

"He was ambitious. Dedicated. He worked like a 22-year-old. He did roofing. Painting. Whatever needed to be done," Peters said. "He cared for his chickens for decades - so he was on site every day."

Taylor Jacobsen with chicks in the chicken coup in April of 2018.

About 35 people attended the dedication of the gardens Saturday, including members of Jacobsen's family.

Einor Jacobsen is one of Taylor's sons. He was happy to visit the farm Saturday and see familiar faces.

"First of all, it's great to see all these people come out and and be together," Einor said.

The Rentschler Farm  - and farming in general -was an important part of his father's life.

"So this was a great tribute to him," Einor said.

A lot of people in Saline know that Taylor grew up in Escanaba, Einor said, but fewer people know that when Taylor was young, his family moved to Wayne County and lived in the projects. When they moved Saline, Taylor enjoyed what was a different world.

"He spent a lot of time with Johnny Miller working on the farm. Farm work became a lifelong passion," Einor said. "He loved the farm. He loved working on the farm. He loved seeing the farm. He was a visual person, so seeing that garden was important to him. And I think he enjoyed sharing the farm culture with the rest of the people in the city."

Jacobsen helped create one of the most inviting public spaces in the City of Saline. Girbach said it's time for the city to make more use of it.

"It's a perfect space. It's beautiful. We want to start looking at these grounds more like a public park, to install picnic tables so people can come out and enjoy the garden for a few minutes," Girbach said.

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