Linda Jo Scott For the Enquirer
John Grap/The Enquirer
Bill Schroer, a lifelong naturist, stands naked on his property north of Battle Creek. Schroer is a member of the Naturist Action Committee and believes nudism no longer should be kept low profile.
Wanna get naked?
For more information on World Nude Gardening Day, go to www.wngd.org
John Grap/The Enquirer
Bill Schroer doesn't wear blue jeans and work shoes when he works in his garden.
He doesn't wear gloves or a hat.
In fact, Schroer wears nothing at all.
And the 56-year-old likes to encourage the rest of us to become nude gardeners, too.
Schroer, you see, is a confirmed, enthusiastic "naturist" who has decided, with his fellow members of the board of the Naturist Action Committee, that nudism no longer should be kept low profile.
The human body is beautiful in its natural state, and it's time to openly encourage nude activities, the Battle Creek resident said.
And he wants the community to get involved in the Nature Action Committee's "World Nude Gardening Day" event on Saturday.
But with all the rose thorns and hedge clippers, isn't gardening in the buff a little risqué?
Schroer says no.
"Second only to swimming, gardening is at the top of the list of family-friendly activities people are most ready to consider doing nude," he said. "Gardening naked is not only a simple joy, it reminds us that we can be honest with who we are as humans and as part of this planet."
No newcomer to nudism, Schroer first became interested while he was a teenager in Chicago.
"I joined Ohio Sun Seekers, but I never went to any of their activities because I was a shy teenager. Much later, when Turtle Lake Resort opened in the early '90s near Union City, my wife and I went to a New Year's Eve party there," he said. "We had worn costumes, but we'd taken them off within five minutes."
Ever since that New Year's Eve, Schroer has been a missionary for nudity.
"I see it as a way to celebrate the beautiful place we have to live and not take anything for granted in this wonderful universe," he said. "We forget to celebrate that we are physical beings in a physical environment."
In addition to serving on various committees, Schroer has written an article for the winter edition of "N: The Magazine of Naturist Living," called "Say Good Bye to the Low Profile."
"We need to stand up and be counted," he said. "People should look around and say, 'These nudists are my next-door neighbors. They're the cop on the beat, the gas station owner. If they're part of it, it must be OK.'"
Although many Battle Creek folks may not know it, there is a nudist organization on Collier Avenue called Sunshine Gardens.
Penny Adams, its co-owner, said her parents-in-law started Sunshine Gardens as a family garden in the Bedford area.
"They themselves gardened in the nude, and eventually started a family-oriented nudist resort in 1942, and we've been here ever since," she said.
Schroer said Southwest Michigan is the perfect place to promote his sans-clothing agenda.
"We probably have more nudist resorts or clothing-optional organizations per capita in this area than anywhere in the country," he said. "Michigan is a recreation state. So it's a natural gathering place for naturism."
So what will Schroer be doing on Saturday?
"I'll probably be trimming some trees, mowing and picking apples. I may invite some other naturists over to swim in our pond and play some bocce."
Linda Jo Scott is a free lance writer.