7th ANNUAL NATIVE PLANT SALE GOES VIRTUAL AND BREAKS SALES RECORDS
In April, the WORC board debated whether to cancel the seventh annual native plant sale and garden tour. On the one hand, a large, public fundraiser in the middle of a worldwide epidemic in our Native Plant Education Garden would be risky, but cancellation would mean financial loss to our chapter and to the growers who supply our plants.
After weighing the pros and cons, the board decided to enter new territory and “go virtual.” Communications chair, Ruth Oldenburg got to work creating a colorful and detailed on-line store. Treasurer Ann Nowak managed our Pay Pal account and kept track of sales. Marty Arnold and Keasha Palmer used Sign-Up Genius to schedule pick-up times and volunteers.
WORC was back in business!
Event chair Marty Arnold is proud of the board’s problem-solving skills. “There was no template to follow, but everyone just dove into it and figured things out.”
In addition, the Education Committee, chaired by Marty MacCleery, developed attractive information packets for each customer. I.C.C.F., our host at 920 Cherry SE, offered the use of their parking lot, garden hose and bathrooms for pick-up day. Amy Heilman, who chairs the garden committee, created a species list and worked with four growers to make sure orders could be fulfilled.
On June 15, the store opened to members and friends of WORC and went live to the public a week later. In total, 96 orders were placed and 565 plants and related merchandise were sold.
The on-line format offered some advantages, says Ruth Oldenburg. “When popular plants sold, we were able to order more from our growers. As a result, we sold more plants than last year.”
On Monday morning, July 20, growers and Wild Ones volunteers arrived wearing masks to unload, sort, check and double-check 96 plant orders. From 4:00 to 8:30 customers drove through the parking lot to receive their orders without leaving their cars. (In the meantime, volunteers did some serious “catching up” at a safe social distance.)
Special thanks to Jeanette Henderson from Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and grower Tammy Lundeen, owner of She is Growing Wild, for their expertise on pickup day.
Each customer also received two free plants, an orange milkweed and a swamp milkweed, grown and donated by Mike and Carol Klug and the Kalamazoo Chapter of Wild Ones.
“It took some real creativity—and a lot of fortitude—to pull off this year’s event,” says Arnold. “The board, the growers and the member-volunteers all came through for WORC.”
A major setback this year was Brewery Vivant’s inability, due to Covid-19, to offer their Buck-a Beer fundraiser—a loss of about $700 in expected revenue. However, this year’s additional plant sales nearly made up to the loss.
“By all measures the event was a great success,” Arnold says. “But next year I look forward to being back in our beautiful Native Plant Education Garden persuading a novice gardener to try growing a native plant. That’s what we do best.”
We would like to thank our growers for their high quality plants and shrubs:
She is Growing Wild
Designs by Nature – West, LLC
Grand Rapids, MI