SYRACUSE — To advance its mission “to protect, preserve and enhance the Wawasee area watershed now and for future generations,” Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation hosted a Lake Talk & Eats and native plant sale Saturday, June 1.
The event featured three local vendors and an informative speaker. The vendors offered native trees, bushes, perennials and grasses to the approximately 75 attendees.
Brad Clayton, manager of Clayton Garden Center north of North Webster, presented an educational talk about the importance and value of native plants in lake health and personal landscaping. His lecture took place in the Ruddell Pavilion on WACF’s 40-plus-acre lakefront property south of Syracuse.
Cardno Native Plant Nursery donated native plant seedlings, which were potted by members of the Syracuse-Wawasee Garden Club and offered free for the taking.
Also provided during the free event was a buffet breakfast of a variety of egg casseroles, fruit medley, donuts, juice and coffee.
“This is a great educational event to learn how native plants can enhance water quality and prevent erosion,” said Pam Schumm, WACF board member and education chairman. “You can plant along the shoreline or as part of your landscaping.
“The root systems are enormously long and can run 15 or 16 feet. Native plants will grow in a drought and make paths in the soil so the rainwater can trickle down into the soil and follow the root path.
“This makes for a more conducive soil for other plants and holds the soil in place to prevent erosion.”
Clayton defined native plants as “any plant that is naturally occurring without human intervention.” He said the area’s thousands of natives species can generally be classified as grasses; forbs, or “non-woody perennials”; shrubs; and trees.
“People are starting to go more toward natural and native plantings,” he said. “In the last six years there has been a lot more marketing of native plants and more education. People are more environmentally conscious now with the green movement. They are starting to look more at the things around them, at their community, and they want to have more wildlife and butterflies because that makes them happy.”
WACF has sponsored the Lake Talk & Eats events for “about 10 years.” The remaining sessions will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. the first Saturday of the summer months, July 6 and Aug. 3 this year. They will also host weekly “Wetland Adventures” for children from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 10, 17, 24 and 31.
The foundation is starting a speaker’s bureau this year, with two educational events slated from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 and July 16, at the pavilion. The June program will feature a pollinator workshop and is limited to 30 attendees. The July event will discuss “what fish live in Lake Wawasee.” Both events are free, but preregistration is required.
“The foundation is here to help keep the lake clean,” said Schumm. “We want people to be able to use and enjoy the lake, but we don’t want it polluted so future generations don’t have it.
“I think people are actually getting to be more concerned about water quality, just because they read about other lakes in other areas with issues and they don’t want it to happen here,” she said, acknowledging, “the hardest ones to reach are the summer visitors. We haven’t yet found a real good way to reach them.”
Other WACF programs held throughout the year can be found at www.wacf.com or www.facebook/wawaseeconservancy.
For more information, call (574) 457-4549.