A Newbie’s View of the Native Plant Sale

Blog post author Melissa Medina, pictured above right, with her sister Erika Edgar, BSWCD’s new administrative assistant.

As a first time volunteer of the Benton SWCD Native Plant Sale, I am proud to have participated in such a positive, supportive and important event in my community.

Native Plant Sale Excitement

If you stopped by the BSWCD native plant sale on Saturday, February 25th you might have shared a smile with several of the 107 blue apron wearing volunteers. Or maybe you enjoyed the live music performed by Cheatgrass, sampled (and purchased) Old Blue raw honey, admired the pollinator display, picked up your pre-ordered plants and/or found your way over to the native plant and supply market.

The need for native plants is real and BSWCD wants to help educate and promote the importance of planting native plants. The latest buzz (if you haven’t already heard) surfacing Benton County is the urgency for native pollinators. Over 75% of all flowering plants depend on animal pollinators. Tragically they are in decline due to inappropriate use of pesticides, habitat loss due to development and invasive species as well as parasites and diseases. So it was no surprise that pollinator seeds sold out within 2 hours of the market opening.

Pollinator seeds weren’t the only hot commodity at the sale, community members and customers purchased native trees, shrubs, ground covers, flowers, books, supplies and a variety of other seeds. Pre-orders were also a huge part of the native plant sale and an impressive 351 pre-orders were filled. Together, 12,000 native plants were purchased leaving behind only a few to be raffled off at the end of the day. For those who were looking for opportunities to learn and do more, Linn County Master Gardeners  were present with a mason bee display showcasing bee bundles, nesting trays and houses.

Happy volunteers filled orders for conifers, broadleaf trees, flowers, and more! © H. Crosson

Behind the Scenes

BSWCD staff spent months collaborating, planning, organizing, contacting vendors and creating materials for this not for profit event. The amount of hours and time spent on this event was done with careful consideration for staff, volunteers, plants and customer experience. Along with BSWCD staff, 107 volunteers (consisting of BSWCD family members, Master Gardeners, OSU students, and generous community members) made this event possible and it is because of everyone’s support the event was a huge success.

A few days prior to the event, many volunteers (me included) participated in one of three trainings held by Board Director, Jerry Paul, as well as Soil Health Coordinator, Teresa Matteson. At the training volunteers had the opportunity to gather advice from past native sale volunteers, walk-through position assignments, and receive instructions on what to expect.

Customers that did a pre-order pick up and visited the market might have noticed that the venue was organized to keep those two areas separate for better plant and material inventory. In order to provide excellent service, the setup of the venue needed to support the needs of both the customers and volunteers. And to avoid all pre-order customers arriving in large groups, each customer chose a 15-minute pickup time interval to collect their order.

Camille Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey offered free tastings of honey made from local native plants and crops. © H. Crosson

Fun Facts

Below is information that can be found on the BSWCD website to share with family and friends:

  • Songbirds, bumble bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects help fight garden pests, pollinate food crops, and improve soil.
  • A well-chosen native plant can create wildlife habitat, conserve water, and reduce the need for pesticides/fertilizers that can pollute local bodies of water.
  • Native plants are low maintenance. They don’t need fertilizer, and have evolved to survive wet winters and dry summers, although they should be irrigated during the first few years to help with establishment.

Choosing the Right Native Plant (for you)

  • Do your research:
    • Find out what plants are native species are native to your region
  • Location Location Location:
    • Even if the plant is native to your region, location is key. Always choose plants with water and soil needs that match your site.
    • Sun loving plants need sun. Shade plants strive in shade.
  • Be mindful:
    • Invasive and non-native plants can be aggressive and harmful to the development of native plants. Even some native plants can be aggressive and take over more are than you anticipated.
    • Choose plants that are adapted to your yard, non-invasive, drought-tolerant, pest-resistant and support wildlife
Linn County Master Gardeners (pictured here) were on hand to sell mason bee cocoons and supplies, while BSWCD’s Director Jerry Paul shared information on how to best care for our native pollinators. © H. Crosson

Moving Forward

The native plant movement doesn’t stop here. There are variety of ways to help our community reach its full native plant and pollinator potential.

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