Mason-Lake Conservation District celebrates National Stewardship Week

Earth Day kids' activity bags, memorial orchard among the festivities

Seedling trees are lined up at a previous Conservation District tree sale. (Courtesy photo)

Seedling trees are lined up at a previous Conservation District tree sale. (Courtesy photo)

LAKE COUNTY — National Stewardship Week is in full swing.

From April 24 through May 1, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), in partnership with the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD), has been honoring natural resource conservation within the state’s agricultural community. This year’s theme is “Healthy Soil: Healthy Life.”

The Mason-Lake Conservation District kicked off the week at AFFEW's Earth Day celebration by sharing  nature activity packs with kids at Earth Day, and through the Mason County and Baldwin libraries. 

During the week, the District and AgriScience class have been establishing a memorial orchard at West Shore Community College. This project will serve as a learning and experimental orchard for students at the college for years to come. It will be located near the AgriScience classroom and maintenance area, south of the Schoenherr Campus Center.

Many partners have worked together to ensure the project is a great success. A variety of fruit trees and planting supplies were provided by Mason-Lake Conservation District via donations from their Memorial Tree Fund. Dr. Emily Lavely, of MSU Extension, has provided guidance on layout and orchard establishment. Alway's Shady Lane Farm has committed time and equipment to help till and prepare the planting area.

The AgriScience class, led by teacher Mark Willis, will plant the trees and maintain the orchard into the future. The Kickstart to Career program and Mason County Promise are starting a tradition of planting a tree for each graduating class. The District is excited to share in the celebration, and is providing three fruit trees to be planted in the orchard this year to recognize recent graduates.

Finally, Stewardship Week will wrap up with the Conservation District's Annual Tree Sale, also in conjunction with the 150th celebration of Arbor Day on Friday, April 29. More than 250 people pre-ordered trees to plant this spring, totaling over 20,000 tree and shrub seedlings. Some trees and shrubs will still be available for walk-in sales, but only at the Mason County Fairgrounds: 2-6 p.m. Friday April 29, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 30. Pre-order pickups for Baldwin orders will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 30, at the Wenger Pavillion. 

Conservation District Memorial Tree Fund: Folks often contribute to the fund in memory of a loved one, and all donations go towards planting trees in community parks or similar projects. Most notable recent donations were in memory of Bill Bradow, whose family are long-time supporters of the Conservation District, and Murray Stall, a dedicated employee and conservationist, who worked as a Technician for the Conservation District more that 20 years, after serving a full career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  

For more information on the Tree Sale or Conservation District, visit www.mason-lakeConservation.org