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!

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!

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!

AFFEW Presentation Series | Mr. Natural’s Organic Gardening for the Homeowner

This session will focus on organic gardening and the benefits of composting. Learn how to turn everyday food scraps (non-meat) into a rich soil for your garden. Introducing this “black gold” into your soil will help produce higher yields for your gardening season. Composting is an economical way to enrich your soil while reducing the amount of kitchen waste in landfills. A win-win for you and our planet!

Sign up for the Organic Gardening presentation!