Clubs and Organizations
August 1, 2012
With the fall planting season now underway, national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful (KAB) is encouraging the public, municipalities and civic leaders to plant and re-plant using native species instead of exotic and ornamental plants that are less adapted to local ecosystems.
Through the first-ever National Planting Day (www.getgrowing.org), which KAB has designated on this Saturday, Sept. 8, the organization hopes to raise awareness about the importance of native species in restoring balance to the local environment, while creating vibrant, more beautiful communities. Activities will be happening this weekend and throughout the fall as KAB, its affiliates and its partners mobilize Americans to plant native species of trees, flowers, and plants.
"Seemingly small choices can have huge impacts on our environment, including choosing to plant only with native species," said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Matthew M. McKenna. "Through National Planting Day, we hope to build nationwide momentum and grassroots advocacy for sustainable beautification and community greening practices. The benefits cannot be ignored."
Why Plant Natives?
Native species are losing ground to suburbanization, fragmented habitats, ornamental plants and invasive species. Yet we know that natives are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects, which in turn provide food for birds and ultimately many more animals up the food chain. Native species provide ideal habitat for wildlife, are hardier, and require less water and ongoing maintenance than other ornamentals. This is an especially important benefit in light of this summer's droughts and extreme temperatures in many parts of the country.
How can you get involved?
Whether you're part of a citywide beautification program, a municipal leader, or simply a home gardener, you can participate simply by committing to use native species for your fall planting efforts. An excellent online resource is plantnative.org, which offers a searchable database of species, nurseries and community organizations that can help.
Keep America Beautiful will be joined in this effort by the United States Department of Agriculture's People's Garden Initiative, which is part of the USDA's partnership with KAB to create food gardens across the U.S. Communities that wish to be recognized for growing a 'People's Garden' must incorporate sustainable practices such as planting native species. The simple practice of planting natives helps the environment by conserving water, protecting soil from erosion and providing habitat for wildlife. People's Gardens across the country are being called upon to participate in National Planting Day.
It's not too late for community groups, businesses and individuals to register planting events today at www.getgrowing.org.
Remember to use compost when planting!
The US Composting Council is joining KAB in promoting National Planting Day, and reminding the public of the importance of using compost when planting to provide essential organic matter to soils, add vital water holding capacity, help soil retain nutrients longer, improve soil structure and to support local organic recycling programs. Learn more about all things related to compost at www.compostingcouncil.org.
About Keep America
Keep America Beautiful, Inc., established in 1953, is the nation's largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. With a network of over 1,200 affiliate and participating organizations, Keep America Beautiful forms public-private partnerships and programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community's environment. To learn more, visit www.kab.org.
About the United States
Department of Agriculture's People's Garden Initiative
The People's Garden initiative is an effort by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which challenges its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all are required to have three components in common. The garden must benefit the community, must be collaborative and must incorporate sustainable practices. For more information, go to www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.