UF/IFAS Field and Fork staff and students install a Florida-Friendly Landscaping Natural demonstration garden at the field office in late May. [ UF-IFAS ]
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Award created for Florida-friendly landscapers

Florida-Friendly Landscaping has created a new award to honor homeowners who install and maintain yards that help protect Florida’s water and natural resources.

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Natural recognition is an alternative to the Silver and Gold tiers of the landscaping program’s current recognitions and focuses on plants and gardening methods that can thrive with minimal intervention. The goal of the recognition is to reward people who go above and beyond to create environmentally friendly landscapes that will protect water resources and create an ecological haven for pollinators and wildlife.

Claire Lewis, director of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program – part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences – said the recognition is special because it aims to protect Florida’s unique resources.

“Yards like these are a boon for Florida and good for future generations because they protect Florida’s water resources and provide space for pollinators to thrive,” she said.

The required practices for the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Natural recognition can be viewed on their website and focus on minimal inputs to the plants – things like water and fertilizer. For example, 75% of the plants used must be native to Florida, irrigation is used only if the plant shows signs of severe drought stress and no fertilizer is applied to the landscape after establishment.

For those interested in pursuing this recognition, two sites serve as prime examples of the Natural recognition, one of them the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission office in Lake City.

FWC Regional Director Chris Wynn said the program has a common-sense approach for landscaping: place plants in areas where they feel most at home so they can thrive.

The second Florida-Friendly Natural site is a demonstration garden planted last month at the Field & Fork Gardens on the University of Florida’s campus with about 100 native plants, including scrub mint, blue-eyed grass, starry rosinweed and swamp sunflower.

Led by Master Gardener Volunteer program Statewide Coordinator Wendy Wilber, the project was created by the Florida-Friendly Landscaping team and installed by students from the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The goal is to show how native pollinator plants can look beautiful in a home landscape while protecting and conserving natural resources.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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