Residents will have an opportunity to improve the habitats of pollinating insects and birds during AFFEW’s third annual native plant sale at Rotary Park.

AFFEW — which stands for A Few Friends for the Environment of the World — took over the sale from the Mason-Lake Conservation District in 2019. This year’s sale is from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 12.

The inclusion of native plants in home gardens is important as they help attract pollinators, according to Julia Chambers, AFFEW president. Not only that, but they’re also a good, practical choice for one’s garden.

“There’s a big push for native plants… They support a habitat for pollinators — the insects and the bees — and they bring in insects that the birds want,” Chambers said. “If you don’t have enough natives, you don’t have as many birds coming to your garden (because) the majority of the birds want those specific insects.”

Native plants also require less water, according to Chambers.

“They absorb more water because they have a deeper root system. If you look at grass, it has maybe 6 inches of root; native plants, once they get established, have roots that are 12 inches or more, so they can absorb more (groundwater). Also, you don’t have to use fertilizer, and we don’t want to use fertilizer if we don’t need to.”

About 600 plants will be available during the sale, including woodland plants for the first time. AFFEW is working with Birdsfoot Native Nursery for the event.

Last year’s sale was held with several COVID-19 mitigation measures in place. This time, while social distancing guidelines will still be observed and the plants will still be spaced out, there are no requirements for wearing masks.

“Everyone is at a different comfort level (regarding COVID-19) and vaccination status,” Chambers said.

In 2020, AFFEW sold about 1,000 plants, all told. This year, with pre-sales included, Chambers said that number should be even higher.

For more information, including a complete list of available plants, as well as soil and care recommendations, visit www.affew.org.

Dig-it Summer Series

AFFEW is also getting ready to start a new program in collaboration with MSU Extension and the Lakeshore Food Club. The U-Dig Summer Series is an interactive gardening experience for kids, ages 8 to 10 years old. It will take place every other Tuesday starting June 15 at U-Dig It Community Garden near Ludington United Methodist Church.

The program will continue through Aug. 17.

Each week, a different interactive activity will be planned at the garden. The first week will focus on native plants, while others will explore vegetation, birds and more.

Space is limited, with 15 spots per session. Sign up by calling MSU Extension office at (231) 845-3361.

Visit www.affew.org for more information.

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