Earth Day 2023 | Invest in our Planet

Saturday, April 22 | 10 am-4:00 pm
United Methodist Church of Ludington | 5810 E Bryant Rd

AFFEW is excited to share a variety of in-person presentations during our Earth Day Celebration! The theme for 2023 is Invest in our Planet. This all day event will include many topics of interest. This year’s keynote speaker is Dave Dempsey, environmental author who has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 30 years! Were also pleased to have Jim McGrath from Nature Discovery bring his interactive show featuring Michigan native snakes.  In addition we’ll have many organizations and groups represented at the information booths.

Event Schedule

10 am | Guided Hike with Dave Dister
11 am-12 pm | Identifying and Treating Invasive Species
11 am-3 pm | Informational Booths
11 am-3 pm | Earthly Treats by Dannee & Kay
11:30 am-12:30 pm | Bikes & Transportation
11:30 am-2 pm | U Dig It Community Garden Tours
1-2 pm | A Conversation About Environmental Protection in Michigan
2-3 pm | Musical fun with the String-a-Longs!
2:30-3:45 pm | Snakes Alive!

10-11 am | Guided Hike with Dave Dister

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 .

Sweet Fern

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.

11 am-12 pm | Identifying and Treating Invasive Species

Over the past several years, employees of the Mason-Lake Conservation District and North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA) have been working diligently to combat the invasive plant species challenge at Cartier Park in Ludington. Volunteers with AFFEW also assist with this ongoing project. 

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

In this session, representatives from both organizations will talk about the recent project that included identifying and treating nearly 2000 trees for hemlock woolly adelgid. In addition, this past fall several invasive trees, shrubs and plants were removed from the park and replaced with native species. Participants will also learn how they can identify, treat and receive more information from these organizations to deal with invasive species on their property.

Vicki Sawicki has been working in invasive species since her master’s thesis on purple loosestrife, completed in 1998 at Binghamton University in New York. She worked in invasive species control and habitat restoration for the U.S. Forest Service in Baldwin, before becoming the coordinator for NCCISMA.

Bri Jasinski is the HWA Project Manager at Mason-Lake Conservation District. She joined MLCD in December 2021, moving back home to Michigan after 8 years working in biology for various government and nonprofits in the southwestern U.S. and Alaska. She is enjoying all the water and snow in beautiful Ludington, MI.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm | Let’s talk about walking and biking in Ludington!!

AFFEW Board Member Sharon Edgar considers herself an active transportation (amateur) expert. Her rule of thumb is: if it’s under 5 miles you walk it or bike it (unless there’s bulky cargo involved!) Sharon biked 4,600 miles last year — most of them around town. Sharon will tell you about her experiences walking and biking in Ludington and hopes you will also share yours!!!  Whether for recreation, fitness, or love of the planet, getting there under your own steam can be very rewarding.

1-2 pm | Keynote Speaker: A Conversation About Environmental Protection in Michigan with Dave Dempsey

Join Dave Dempsey, prolific author about Michigan’s environment and environmental leadership and his guest Lois DeBacker, managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program, for a conversation about Michigan’s environmental history and current conditions. Dave has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 30 years and is an author and co-author of six conservation books. As a leader within the Kresge Foundation, Lois focuses on helping communities build resilience in the face of climate change while attending to racial justice. An informal conversation between Dave and Lois (moderated by AFFEW Board member Sharon Edgar) as they talk about their professional and personal history in environmental protection with a focus on the Great Lakes, climate change and Michigan’s history as a (former) environmental leader.

Dave, Lois and Sharon met when Dave was serving as Michigan Governor Blanchard’s environmental advisor in the late 1980s.

Dave Dempsey has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 30 years and is an author and co-author of six conservation books. He is currently a policy advisor for FLOW, a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting Great Lakes waters using the public trust doctrine. Dave served as Environmental Advisor to Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard (1983-89). He has served in leadership and policy positions with the Michigan Council on Environmental Quality, Michigan Office, Clean Water Action, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Conservation Minnesota and the International Joint Commission Dave has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. He lives in Traverse City, Michigan. Learn more about Dave Dempsey and his publications, visit his website.  

Lois DeBacker serves as managing director of The Kresge Foundation Environment Program, which focuses on helping communities build resilience in the face of climate change while attending to social justice. She joined the foundation in February 2008. Lois’s experience includes more than 16 years at the C. S. Mott Foundation and 10 years in Michigan state government in both policy-development and program-management capacities. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She lives in Birmingham, Michigan.

Sharon Edgar is retired from 32 years of state government service in Michigan and Ohio, 18 of those years at the upper management level. She worked in the areas of transportation and natural resources management. She is a Ludington resident and member of the AFFEW Board of Directors.

2:30-3:45 pm | Snakes Alive!

Fox Snake

Learn all about Michigan snakes during this interactive presentation! Fears and misconceptions about snakes are addressed in addition to dissemination of sound information about snake biology and ecology. Individual species’ habits and characteristics are discussed with inspection of live specimens. At the presentation’s end, all participants are encouraged to handle the snakes. There’s a possibility you might even get the chance to see them feed on their favorite food!!

Biologists Jim and Carol McGrath founded and operate Nature Discovery, a private nature center attached to their home north of Williamston, MI. 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.

AFFEW Native Plant Sale 2023

Our Native Plant Sale will be done a little differently this year. We will not have an in-person event! All orders must be ordered in advance. We will be accepting orders through April 22 for Garden & Single Species flats plus individual Quart & Gallon plants.

Help protect our species by gardening with native plants! These important plants provide nectar, pollen, and seeds for many insects, birds and animals. They are also hosts for many insects 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 butterflies! Last year, our sale introduced over 1700 new native plants to our community!

Having problems with deer eating your plants? View the list of deer resistant native plants from the Lansing chapter of Wild Ones.

Need help deciding what to plant? Attend our FREE presentation All About Natives!

AFFEW MEMBERS who ORDER Garden or Single Species Flats will receive a discount of $10 off Garden & Shrub Flats | $7 off Single Species Wildflowers, Grass & Sedge Flats!

2023 Preorders will be accepted through our Earth Day Celebration on April 22.

Garden and Single Species Flats

Each Garden Flat comes with 38 native plant plugs and a design plan for a 4’x10’ garden. Learn more about Garden Flat designs.

Single Species Flats also come with 38 plant plugs. These one year plants are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides and are Michigan Genotype. They typically do not bloom or reach full maturity until the second year.

Garden Flats: $95 | Wildflowers & Grasses: $72 unless specified | Shrubs: $100 (Tax Included)

Butterfly GardenGrassland GardenPollinator  Garden
Rain GardenSemi-Shade GardenMonarch Garden (New)
Shoreline GardenTall Prairie Garden 
PLEASE NOTE: Plant substitution may take place due to availability for Garden Flats.

Quarts & Gallon Plants

This year we’ll offer a variety of individual wildflower, grass, sedge and shrub plants. All plants must be ordered in advance!

Wildflower, Grass, Sedge Quarts: $7 unless specified | Shrub Gallons: $15 (Tax Included)

Here’s how it works: Place your order with the forms provided. All orders will be confirmed with the nursery before the order is accepted. An email with a summary of your order and payment options will be sent after the order has been confirmed. Orders are available for pick up on June 10 at U Dig It Community Garden unless other arrangements have been made. Thank you for gardening with native plants and supporting AFFEW!

Have more questions? Contact Sara Bolan at 815-592-9032

    Sustainability Awards & Board Elections at Annual Annual Meeting

    Photo by Steve Begnoche

    AFFEW President, Julia Chambers presented the 2022 Sustainability Awards at the annual meeting on October 26.

    Environmentalists of the Year 
    Dave and Chrissie Hall have supported AFFEW from the beginning. Both have served in the past on the AFFEW board. They support a eco-friendly lifestyle including solar power for their home, native plants and organic fertilizer, composting, among other sustainable practices. The Hall’s also donated the initial funds for AFFEW to start an account with the Foundation for Mason County and has made generous donation towards the annual Household Hazardous Waste event.

    Volunteer of the Year 
    Local botanist and author Dave Dister has been a active volunteer in our local community for several years. He helps lead the invasive plant species identification and removal at Cartier Park. Dave also provides his expertise with guided hikes and presentations. He writes a monthly column, “The Life of a Naturalist”, for the Ludington Daily News and is the author of The Birds of Mason County, Michigan.

    Sustainable business of the Year 
    Ludington Bay Brewing Company has been using sustainable practices since its inception in 2017. From compostable packaging to turning spent grain into food for animals, Ludington Bay Brewing has been a sustainable leader in our community. In April 2022, between collecting electronics for recycling during their  Earth Month event and beer sale proceeds, over $900 was donated to AFFEW! Brandy Bentley accepted the award on behalf of owners, Ted & Louise Gedra.
    AFFEW Board elections also took place at the event. Sharon Edger was re-elected for another two year term. Dawn Stowe and Dan Mahynski were new electees replacing outgoing board members Karla Cain and Ann Gilchrist. Read more about the evenings events at the Ludington Daily News.

    Welcome to U Dig It Community Garden!

    The U Dig It Community Garden is a membership based organic garden that was established in 2010. 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 when our organizations merged!

    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!

    In 2022 with the help of Michigan State University Extension, we introduced 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. If 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, twenty-five percent 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!

    Julia Chambers takes 2nd Place in Cox Conserves Heroes Award

    Julia Chambers, co-founder and President, earns $15,000 for AFFEW! The AFFEW board of directors is proud to announce that Julia placed 2nd in the Cox Conserves Heroes Groundbreaker Award. The Atlanta based automotive company, Cox Enterprises, recognizes individuals’ efforts to promote the environment through outreach and education. This national award is an amazing, well deserved honor for Julia.

    Thank you to everyone who helped with getting the vote out for Julia! For more information, read the October 13 article published by the Ludington Daily News.

    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.

    Native Plant Sale 2022 — With Preorders

    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.

    AFFEW MEMBERS who PREORDER Garden or Single Species Flats will be discounted $10 off Garden & Shrub Flats | $7 off Single Species Wildflowers & Grass Flats PLUS admission to the 9-10 am presale AND an additional $1 off quarts/$2 off gallons purchased at the presale!

    2022 Preorders will be accepted through May 8.

    Garden and Single Species Flats

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

    Garden Flats | $88 (Tax Included)

    Butterfly GardenGrassland Garden (New)Pollinator Garden
    Rain GardenSemi-Shade GardenShoreline Garden
     Tall Prairie Garden (New) 
    PLEASE NOTE: Plant substitution may take place due to availability for Garden Flats.

    Single Species Flats

    Single species flats of 38 plugs are also available for wildflowers, grasses and shrubs. Wildflowers & Grasses: $66 | Shrubs: $88 (Tax Included) Species NOT AVAILABLE: Harebell, Wild Petunia, Lead Plant and Prairie Smoke.

    2022 Species List-Guide

    Invasive Species Program

    April 25 – September 26 | Second Tuesday | 10 am-Noon   *   Fourth Tuesday | 6 pm – 8 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. Please note: both September events will be at 10 am.  To receive a reminder email about upcoming events and cancellations due to weather, email Sara Bolan at

    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.

    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!