“Plugs for Pollinators” coming to Polk County High School

Published 11:57 am Monday, October 23, 2023

The Spring FFA Plant Sale organized by Polk County High School students and staff is a popular annual event. In 2023, they celebrated their 50th year of seeding, germinating, potting and growing a wide variety of annual flowers and vegetables. For the 2024 sale, in addition to growing and selling flowers and vegetables, students will be offering a selection of native plants thanks to support from the Gardening for Life Project.

 The Gardening for Life Project is an all-volunteer community initiative whose mission is to cultivate, celebrate and protect healthy habitats in the Carolina Foothills and beyond. In 2023, it organized a native plant sale in Tryon on September 22, co-hosted a free community screening of the film Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home and organized the GFL Celebration on March 4  at the Polk County High School. Over 700 people from across the region gathered to hear a presentation by acclaimed conservationist Doug Tallamy, to view exhibits, and to shop at the native plant sale. One of the big takeaways from attendees of that event was the request to have more native plants available for sale in our region.

 With that information in hand, the GFLP Leadership Team decided to purchase hundreds of native plant plugs, with the help of our community partners. These were then gifted to the FAA High School program to be potted up and grown for their spring plant sale. This school outreach provides a learning opportunity for students about the importance of native plant species while supporting Polk County School Pollinator Garden projects (with a portion of plugs going to them). It also gets more native plants in the pipeline for area gardeners to purchase.

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 The selection of plants that will be available includes eleven keystone perennials, which means that these are some of the top varieties that offer the greatest value to local insect and wildlife populations. The selection includes a variety of aster, phlox, blazing star, mountain mint, goldenrod, ironweed, boneset, rudbeckia, Joe Pye weed and two varieties of milkweed.

 Stay tuned for news about Spring plant sale times and dates. In the meantime, while students are hard at work tending the overflowing greenhouse stock, plant lovers can begin dreaming up ways to incorporate more native plants into their gardens.

 

Submitted by Corrie Woods