updated 7/18/2005 8:34:56 AM ET 2005-07-18T12:34:56

The caretakers of the school gardens in this northwest Michigan town wanted an attention-getting way to raise money. They got it. A calendar featuring photos of 12 well-known area men posing naked with carefully placed props is being noticed — and criticized.

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The 2006 "Naked Gardener" calendar isn't affiliated with the Leland Public Schools. But much of the concern stems from schools Superintendent Michael Hartigan's inclusion in it.

"Is this an appropriate role model for our children?" said Janice Blackburn of Leland, whose children attend Glen Lake schools. "I think he crossed the line. The public perception is that it's associated with the school."

The first 500 calendars, which cost $20 apiece, have sold out since their July 1 release. Another printing is on the way.

Raising eyebrows
Bulb sales, smelt dinners and other fund-raisers have raised only limited amounts of money for the gardens, which use no tax dollars, said Dee Glass, a volunteer. She said she and garden designer Tracy Brookfield knew the calendar would raise a few eyebrows. But they thought most people would look at it as the lighthearted project they intended.

"I started asking people to be in the calendar and to my amazement, everyone said yes," Glass told the Traverse City Record-Eagle for a Sunday story.

Hartigan said he had no qualms about participating in the "tongue-in-cheek project" that would benefit the gardens, which feature native Michigan plants and serve as an outdoor classroom.

The calendar's cover features floral scenes and a note inside explains that the school district did not endorse the project. Viewing one is an individual choice because local merchants display them so people can't just leaf through them without buying one.

Other models include Brookfield, a local winery owner and public officials from outside the school district.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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