Vote for Julia Chambers, Cox Conserves Heroes Award

Julia Chambers, co-founder and President of AFFEW, is a finalist for the Cox Conserves Heroes Groundbreaker Award! Julia has chosen AFFEW to receive the funds of up to $30,000!! This is an amazing, well deserved honor for Julia. We need your help in voting and also sharing this information with your friends and family.

Cox Conserves Heroes is part of Cox Enterprises’ national sustainability initiative, designed to recognize youth and adult volunteers, plus nonprofits, making a positive impact on our environment. The Heroes are actively reducing or reusing carbon/energy and water, or are minimizing waste sent to landfills, in line with our company’s own sustainability goals.

Vote for Julia!

AFFEW Annual Meeting & Awards

Join the AFFEW board for its annual meeting on October 26 at Jamesport Brewing Company, Reds Room. Members and friends welcome!

Learn about the many amazing programs AFFEW has hosted in 2022. Come celebrate with us! 
  • 6-6:30 pm: Social Time         
  • 6:30-7 pm: Eat and drink, Free yummy appetizers, dinner and drinks for purchase
  • 7-7:45 pm: Annual meeting-Committee reports, elections, and environmental awards
Please RSVP by email to if you plan on attending with your name and how many will be in your party.

Invasive Species Program

April – September | Second Tuesday | 10 am-Noon   *   Fourth Tuesday | 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Help treat and remove a variety of invasive plant species at Cartier Park. A discussion to identify these plants will take place before we begin. AFFEW partners with the City of Ludington, Mason-Lake Conservation District and North Country CISMA to eradicate these aggressive plants. Below is more information on some of the challenging invasive plants at Cartier Park.

Check the schedule on our Events and Activities page for dates we’ll be meeting. Meet at the Ludington Central Bark Park at the end of Rath Ave. Bring water, gloves and wear long pants, long sleeved shirt and closed toed shoes. Event will be held in fair weather, and sometimes wraps up early, depending on site conditions.

Japanese barberry

Unfortunately some of these invasive examples below can still be bought at nurseries. When considering plants for your property choose native species over invasive.  Once an invasive plant escapes into a natural area it can cause significant issues for native plants and wildlife. This includes altering soil chemistry in a way that gives future generations of invasive plants a competitive advantage. 

Learn more about invasive species and how to report them on North Country CISMA‘s website. View their High Priority Species  page for more information on identify invasive plant species in Michigan.

Native Species Alternatives

Welcome to U Dig It Community Garden!

The U Dig It Community Garden is a membership based organic garden that was established in 2011. We’re located behind the United Methodist Church of Ludington. Garden boxes are provided for personal use in a organic and sustainable environment. We depend on our members to volunteer by maintaining the garden boxes, grounds and equipment. Our journey with AFFEW began in January 2022!

In the fall of 2021 we began our expansion of the garden. By the spring of 2022 a dozen additional block beds were installed with the generous support of SRM Concrete  through their Giving Back program. We also received support from Lowe’s of Ludington and T & M Landscaping and Tree Removal as an in-kind sponsor who provided equipment and labor to complete the project. After a busy spring and with the help of our volunteers, UDICG now has 59 beds!

In addition to personal boxes, we work directly with our local food pantry Lakeshore Food Club. We provide healthy produce in support of food security for our community. In 2021 our members and Grow a Box Gardeners donated one third of the produce to Lakeshore Food Club!

This year with the help of Michigan State University Extension we will introduce the U Dig It! Gardening Series. This educational series is for our members and the community. In Photo by Ron Sullivanaddition we’ll host the Dig It! Youth Summer Series for 7-11 year olds. This is an interactive program run by AFFEW and MSU that grows, tastes and donates produce to our community. They also learn and experience a variety of aspects about nature, birds and our environment.

Garden Bed Availability
Existing members are given the opportunity to retain their beds before it is opened up to the public. I you’re interested in being placed on the list for next years consideration, contact Sara Bolan, UDICG Director.

Our Mission
To educate its members and the general public in healthy eating by promoting sustainable practices through organic farming, composting and environmental education for children and adults. Through volunteerism and donations from our gardeners, one third of the produce is provided to support food security for our community.

When should I start my seeds?
It’s always a challenge to decide when it’s the right time to start seeds. Here’s a handy seed starting calculator that helps take the mystery out of when to plant! Download the Spring Seed Starting Calendar for Ludington.

Help support AFFEW and UDICG by becoming a member or making a tax deductible donation!

Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet

One of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health, boost energy levels and reduce your impact on our environment, is to move to a plant-based diet. Many scientists praise the health benefits of transitioning towards a plant-based diet over meat and processed foods. Moving in this direction can help achieve better health and easier weight management while enjoying a variety of delicious meals. And living in Michigan, many resources for locally grown vegetables and fruits are available right here in our community.

The best part, you don’t have to completely change your diet to make a difference. Start off by making adjustments to some of your favorite recipes. Try adding rice, beans or other hearty vegetables in place of meat in a soup or casserole recipe. Substituting plant-based milk alternative in your recipes and for daily use is just one small way you can have an affect. As you become more accustomed to these changes, you’ll find plant-based meals can be just as delicious, healthier and have less impact on our planet.

View the presentation by Dr. Bob Breakey on Plant-Based Health from AFFEW’s November 12, 2020 VIRTUAL Annual Meeting.

Dr. Bob Breakey’s Eight Keys to Health and Success

Eat for Health | Choose abundant vegetables, whole grains, fruits and all types of beans, along with some nuts and seeds (including 2 TBSP of ground flax seeds) daily. Minimize, and ideally eliminate, animal foods – meat, dairy and eggs — and minimize refined sugar, oils and other processed foods. Fill your pantry with health supporting foods and make a conscious choice to eat when you are hungry and to choose foods with both great taste and great nutritional value.

Drink Water | Water is our natural beverage and thirst quencher and makes up about 70% of our bodies. Beverages with caffeine, alcohol, sugar, fat and/or a host of artificial ingredients slow you down, interfere with sleep cycles, increase the risk for obesity and should be enjoyed only on occasion.

Avoid Cow’s Milk | Cow’s milk and its associated foods: Cheese, yogurt and ice cream, are derived from “nature’s perfect food for baby cows” and are a totally unnatural component of human nutrition. No other mammal drinks milk after infancy, and most of the world’s human population has “lactose intolerance” meaning they get diarrhea and bloating right away if they drink milk. Cow’s milk is more than half fat, high in saturated fat and cholesterol and most of the rest (70%) is sugar. Milk proteins contribute to allergy, autoimmune disease, chronic kidney disease, mucus production, acne, osteoporosis and the promotion of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cow’s milk always contains bovine estrogen and is nearly always contaminated with antibiotics, growth stimulants, bovine leukemia virus, pus cells and environmental toxins. Many other non-dairy alternatives are now readily available (i.e. soy, rice, coconut, cashew, flax or almond “milks”, cheeses, yogurts and ice creams). Calcium needs are easily obtained by eating “beans and greens”.

Eat Fiber | Health supporting whole foods contain dietary fiber. Avoid white bread, white rice and white pasta that are just metabolized quickly to sugar once they hit your digestive system. Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole grain breads, pastas and cereals are much more slowly digested providing consistent energy for your cells and abundant additional nutrients. They also support healthy bowel bacteria that help with hormone balance, detoxification of several toxins, overall colon health and immune function. Eat a broad variety of whole plant foods for the greatest effect and lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and several cancers. Think “fiber in every bite” with plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains while avoiding animal and processed foods that are devoid of fiber.

Be Active | Walk, run, dance, swim, jump, cycle, skate, ski, lift or whatever else gets you moving. Play and make it fun! Make daily physical activity a regular part of your routine and aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (think an average of 30 minutes 5 days/ week). Choose activities you enjoy that help you stay with your plan. Use stairs instead of elevators, park further away when you drive, and whenever you get the chance, “take the scenic route” under your own power.

Your Environment Matters | Avoid poisons and contaminants in your body by not smoking anything. Also, avoid even second or third hand smoke or tobacco exposure of any kind. Avoid other “recreational drugs”—they are a “dead end”. Choose foods low on the food chain and eat organic when practical. Use a good solid carbon water filter for clean drinking water and limit the use of pesticides and other toxins in your home environment.

Sleep Well | Plan time for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night and develop good sleep hygiene habits: Develop a “wind down routine” an hour before bedtime with relaxing activities (no TV or Internet), a regular rising time each day, avoid caffeine, nicotine & alcohol, use your bed for sleeping only, limit naps and control your sleeping environment. With a good restful night’s sleep, you will enjoy more energy, improved concentration and better overall health.

Make Time to Relax & Play! | Stress is a part of life, but you can manage and harness it for the good by finding balance, prioritizing your responsibilities, setting and writing down challenging but attainable goals and making time for whatever form of adventurous play and/or peaceful relaxation that will help you to optimize your enjoyment. Make time for laughter, love and being with friends, family and others who share these same goals!

Download more Lifestyle Medicine Resources from Dr. Bob Breakey on Plant Based Health.

Below are links to a variety of plant-based recipes and more information on this healthy lifestyle.



  • How Not to Die | Michael Greger, MD
  • How Not to Diet | Michael Greger, MD
  • How to Survive a Pandemic | Michael Greger, MD 
  • Reversing Diabetes | Neal Barnard, MD
  • Forks Over Knives Plan | Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman
  • Eat to Live | Joel Fuhrman, MD
  • The Pleasure Trap | Douglas Lisle, PhD
  • The Cheese Trap | Neal Barnard, MD
  • The Whole Heart Solution | Joel Kahan, MD
  • Whole | T. Colin Campbell, PhD
  • Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease | Caldwell Esselstyn, MD
  • The Starch Solution | John McDougall, MD
  • Empty Medicine Cabinet | Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
  • Proteinaholic | Garth Davis, MD
  • The End of Diabetes | Joel Fuhrman, MD
  • Fiber Fueled | Will Bulsiewicz, MD
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life | Barbara, Kingsolver

Do you have a link to a favorite plant-based recipe or website you’d like to share? Fill out the form below and we’ll post it after review.

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    Household Hazardous Waste Day

    Saturday, August 21th | 9 am-1 pm

    Mason County Road Commission Building Scottville, Michigan

    On the 3rd Saturday in August, AFFEW partners with the Mason-Lake Conservation District to collect hazardous waste. We provide financial support through proceeds from our Native Plant Sale and volunteers for this important annual event. Participation for Mason County residents is free, $10 donation is recommended. Visit the Mason-Lake Conservation District’s website for a list of accepted items.

    Thank you to everyone who helped out to make it an overwhelming success!

    Earth Day 2022 | Invest in our Planet

    Saturday, April 23 | 10:30 am-4:30 pm (Doors open at 10 am)
    United Methodist Church of Ludington | 5810 E Bryant Rd

    (The CDC does not currently require masks for indoor events. However, AFFEW will have some available. We will follow the venue’s COVID protocols. Any changes will be posted here.)


    AFFEW is excited to share a variety of in-person presentations during our Earth Day Celebration! The theme for 2022 is Invest in our Planet. This all day event will include many topics of interest including a live reptile show featuring Michigan native turtles presented by Nature Discovery. We’ll also have many organizations and groups represented at the information booths. This is also your opportunity to take a tour of U Dig It Community Garden and take a guided hike with Dave Dister!

    Event Schedule
    10 am | Doors Open to the public
    10:30-4 pm | Informational Booths
    11 am-12 pm | Green Investing / Meet the “Grand Slam” of Michigan Turtles
    11:30 am-2:30 pm | U Dig It Community Garden Tours
    12-3:30 pm | Live Painting with Marie Marfia
    12:10-12:55 pm | Guided Hike with Dave Dister
    1-2 pm | Building a Bluebird Trail /Vermicomposting for Your Garden
    2-3 pm | Musical fun with the String-a-Longs
    3-4 pm | Green Burials/Energy Transition & Solar Power for Your Home

    Green Investing | 11 am-12 pm  

    Sustainable Investing: A socially conscious approach. Are you interested in investing your money in a socially conscious way? ESG investing incorporates environmental, social and governance considerations along with traditional financial measures. Learn how one may choose to incorporate sustainable investing into their financial goals.

    Mike Heckman believes that financial advisors who invest in their own education achieve better outcomes for their clients. He is working on his Doctor of Business Administration: Financial Management. Mike has a Master of Science Degree in Finance, Financial Planning Concentration. He is has completed many other certifications: CFP® Certified Financial Planner, BFA™ Behavioral Financial Advisor, CEPA® Certified Exit Planning Advisor, AWMA® Accredited Wealth Management Advisor, CRPS® Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist, CRPC® Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, CDFA® Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

    Tanya Lesinski is a financial advisor and Accredited Asset Management Specialist with Edward Jones in Ludington. She and her family have lived in the community for 23 years. Tanya enjoys helping clients become more comfortable with investing and meeting their financial goals through personalized service.

    Claudia Myers is an individual deeply interested in sustainable investing. She manages her own and her spouses investments all with an eye to ESG investments. She’ll share where she goes for information on funds and how she selects what to put in their portfolios. She believes you can make a difference, and can influence positive change, through your investments.

    Meet the “Grand Slam” of Michigan Turtles | 11 am-12 pm

    Introducing a unique opportunity to see live specimens of all ten turtle species native to Michigan while they swim in pools at your feet! Learn to identify them while also learning the specific range and habitat requirements of each. In the presentation, Michigan Turtles in Trouble, learn about Michigan’s four rare, state-protected species. Then learn the four greatest threats to turtle survival, and what you can do to help them thrive in your yard, in your neighborhood and beyond. 

    Biologists Jim & Carol McGrath founded and operate Nature Discovery, a private nature center attached to their home north of Williamston, Michigan. What they bill as “the biggest little nature center in Michigan” is home to the state’s largest zoo of Michigan-native reptiles and amphibians. Jim and Carol travel all over the state offering presentations and exhibits for youth and adult audiences utilizing these live specimens, in addition to offering a wealth of other opportunities to learn about Michigan birds, insects, and more.

    Live Painting with Marie Marfia | 12-3:30 pm (Auction winner announced at 4 pm)

    Watch local artist Maria Marfia bring a painting to life from start to finish! She’ll demonstrate her skills in person and through her live Facebook feed. Throughout the day  we’ll  have a silent auction and one lucky winner will take home the finished painting! 

    Marie Marfia is an artist who likes painting skeletons, portraits and landscapes. She works in soft pastels as well as other mediums. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kendall College of Art & Design, Marie worked the next 30 years as a graphic designer. In 2011, she discovered pastels and promptly fell in love with the medium. Now she paints nearly every day. She currently lives in the Ludington area with her husband and two lucky dogs. Her studio is located in front of her house, and she’s there most weekdays. Learn more on her website.

    Guided Hike with Dave Dister | 12:10 am – 12:55 pm

    Learn about unique plants, trees, animals and birds close to town with local author and botanist Dave Dister! He’ll point out the variety of species found in the wetland, open field and hiking trails found behind United Methodist Church of Ludington .

    Dave Dister earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in botany from Miami University and a secondary education teaching certificate in biology and earth science at the University of Cincinnati. Dave moved to Ludington in 2008 and was a seasonal botanist for the Manistee National Forest and conducted a vascular plant survey of the 5,400-acre Ludington State Park. His expertise in field ornithology includes identification of Great Lakes breeding bird species by songs and call notes. Dave is the compiler for the Ludington Christmas Bird Count as well as the Mason County Migration Count. In 2012, he took over an annual Breeding Bird Survey Route for the US Fish & Wildlife Service that runs 25 miles through parts of Mason, Lake, and Newaygo Counties. Dave is a published author including his 2020 book The BIRDS of Mason County, Michigan.

    Building a Bluebird Trail | 1 – 2 pm  

    Bird lovers will learn the benefits of establishing a Bluebird trail at your home or in your community. This presentation will discuss site selection, nest box design, predator management, and tips to enhance successful Bluebird nesting at your location. Following the presentation we will go outside to look at the U Dig It Community Garden Bluebird trail for a hands-on lesson.

    Phil Johnson is vice president of Michigan Bluebird Society. He is an avid Bluebird trail monitor and lives near Williamston, Michigan and oversees 60 nest boxes

    Vermicomposting for Your Garden | 1 – 2 pm  

    Vermicomposting puts worms to work to help solve some of our planet’s most pressing problems. Composting worms rescue organic waste from landfills, safely sequester carbon, and regenerate the soil that forms the basis of our food system. Compared to conventional fertilizers, worm castings are safer for humans and the environment. Most importantly, worm castings offer practical benefits for farmers and growers, such as slow-release nutrients, disease resistance, and enhanced water retention. 

    In this hands-on presentation, participants will learn about the benefits of using worm castings in home gardens and how to set up a basic home vermicomposting bin to turn kitchen scraps into plant food. Participants will have the opportunity to touch, smell, and take home red wiggler worms and worm castings produced locally at Michigan Worm Works in Manistee. 

    Michigan Worm Works started from humble beginnings in 2016. Founder Elana Warsen brought a bucket of composting worms into her laundry room to help reduce her family’s food waste. She started sharing worms and castings with family and friends, and soon discovered that there was an unmet demand for safe, natural products to regenerate soil. Today Michigan Worm Works is Manistee’s first and only commercial vermicomposting company.

    Musical fun with the String-a-Longs | 2-3 pm

    Enjoy some musical fun with the String-a-Longs, a local ukulele group out of Ludington & Pentwater. They will perform songs celebrating our wonderful world and welcome young and old to sing and play along with this energetic group. Musical instruments will be available.

    Green Burials | 3 – 4 pm

    This presentation will detail what a “Green” burial mean and how it differs from a traditional burial. It will also cover the difference in cost from a traditional burial and how to arrange a green burial. Learn what green burial options are currently available in  Ludington and how to make the necessary arrangements.

    Russ Burns, Kirk Caithamer, and Randy Wyman in the field will explain and answer questions about Green Burials. Russ Burns is the manager of the green burial program at All Saint Cemetery in Clarkston, Michigan. He will outline the best practices to establish and operate a green burial program at a municipal cemetery such as we have in Ludington. Kirt Caithamer is the sexton of Ludington Lakeview Cemetery. Kirt will provide an update on Ludington’s progress towards implementing green burials. Randy Wyman is the funeral director for Wyman Funeral and Cremation Services in Scottville. He will explain the process of arranging for a green burial in Mason County.

    Energy Transition & Solar Power for Your Home | 3 – 4 pm 

    This presentation will focus on energy transitions, what is happening now with energy, what the utilities offer for businesses and residential. Learn more about what we can do now in this field. This session will also focus on what’s needed to move forward with solar energy for your home and the costs involved.

    Robert Rafson, P.E., NABCEP, is the owner of Chart House Energy, a solar development firm that strives to expand and increase solar across Michigan and the greater Midwest Region of the United States. They focus on community scale systems from 20 kW to 2 MW. Rob is also an expert witness in Michigan Public Service Commission Electric rate cases and lobbies on behalf of solar customers and low income rates.

    Our friends at Ludington Bay Brewing Company are working with Valley City Electronic Recycling and AFFEW Friends for the Environment in effort to keep lithium batteries out of landfills!

    During the month of April, Ludington Bay Brewing Company will be collecting old cell phones and laptops. Receive a token voucher for each item you bring in! (Value $6, Limit 3). Visit LBBC website for details!

    Native Plant Sale 2022

    Saturday, June 11 | 9:30 am-12:30 pm

    Rotary Park, Ludington

    Help protect our species by gardening with native plants! AFFEW will offer a variety of native plants for sale the second Saturday in June. These important plant species provide nectar, pollen, and seeds for many insects, birds and animals. They are also hosts for many butterflies all year long. Native plants also require minimal maintenance and their deep root system absorb more water than a traditional lawn. With the continuous decline of the Monarch butterfly population you can make a difference by creating a habitat for these beautiful and important orange butterflies!

    Last year our sale introduced over 1600 new native plants to our community! AFFEW will again partner with Birdsfoot Native Nursery to bring these amazing plants to YOU!

    There will be a LARGE selection of individual quarts and gallon plants available the day of the sale and a representative from Birdsfoot Native Nursery will be on hand to answer any questions. Preview the 2022 Species List-Guide that may be available the day of the sale. This list is neither complete nor guaranteed, but is a great way to see approximately what we will have to offer.

    Plastic Free July

    Make a difference by going plastic free for the month of July. We can all be a part of the solution by reducing the use of plastic in our daily lives. Learn more about what you can do with this Plastic Free July Calendar 2022 from the Great Lakes Plastic Pollution Solutions Coalition. Find additional information on ways to curb the use of plastics from the Plastic Free Foundation.

    Below is a rebroadcast of a video presentation given last year by Art Hirsch on microplastics in the Great Lakes.

    Microplastics in the Great Lakes 

    Art Hirsch will discuss the sources, impacts, legislation and mitigation actions to address microplastics. Microplastics in the Great Lakes is an emerging water quality issue that has the potential of impacting human health and the aquatic environment. It has been estimated that microplastics are consumed by the US population at a rate of 5 grams per week; this is weight of a credit card. Microplastics are found in our food, water and even beer along the Great Lakes. Fish are ingesting microplastics that causes them to starve. Over 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes every year and Lake Michigan is the #1 source.

    Art Hirsch is a former environmental consultant with over 30 years of experience. He lives in Boulder Colorado and spends his summers in Pentwater, Michigan. He is originally from North Muskegon, Michigan and he received his Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Colorado. His expertise is in the areas of water quality, stormwater management, sustainability and environmental impact assessments. He is a member of the Climate Reality Project founded by former Vice President Gore and the For the Love of Water organization located in Traverse City and the Great Lakes Plastic Pollution Solutions Coalition. He is currently working on the Enbridge Line 5 Shutdown, GHG reductions associated with transportation, oil and gas operations and microplastics.

    Native Plant Sale 2021

    Saturday, June 11 | Time 930am-1230pm

    Rotary Park, Ludington

    Help protect our species by gardening with native plants! AFFEW will again offer a variety of native plants for sale. These important plant species provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for insects, birds and animals. Native plants also require minimal maintenance and their deep root system absorb more water than a traditional lawn. With the continuous decline of the Monarch butterfly population you can make a difference by creating a habitat for these beautiful and important butterflies!

    Last year our sale introduced nearly 1600 new native plants to our community! AFFEW will again partner with Birdsfoot Native Nursery to bring these amazing plants to YOU!

    There will be a LARGE selection of individual quarts and gallon plants available the day of the sale and a representative from Birdsfoot Native Nursery will be there to answer any questions. Preview a list of plants that may be available the day of the sale. This list is neither complete nor guaranteed, but is a great way to see approximately what we will have to offer.

    Having problems with deer eating your plants? View the list of deer resistant native plants from the Lansing chapter of Wild Ones. We’ll have several of these plants available the day of the sale.

    Preorders for garden and single species flats of grasses and sedges are going on now as supplies last! Sample designs are below. AFFEW MEMBERS who preorder Garden or Single Species Flats of Grasses and Sedges will receive a 15% Discount on their preorder and purchases made before 10am the day of the sale!

    Each Garden Flat comes with 38 organic plugs and a design plan with a mixture of plants. They include instructions and layout for a 4’x10’ garden. These one year plants are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. They typically do not bloom or reach full maturity until the second year.

    Deadline for preorders is May 23!

     Garden Flats | $70

    Butterfly GardenPollinator GardenRain Garden
    Wildflower GardenLow Growing GardenShoreline Flat Garden
    NEW * Semi-Shade Garden
    PLEASE NOTE: Plant substitution may take place due to availability for Garden Flats.

    Single Species Flats | Grasses: $56 | Sedges: $70

    Single species flats of grasses and sledges are also available and comes with 38 plugs.

    Grass & Sedge Species List

    SSPL Revised 5/1/2021

    The deadline for preorders is May 23!