WLD Preview: Third annual Gardening and DIY Fest is biggest, best yet

The Ann Arbor District Library is celebrating its third year putting on its annual Gardening and DIY Fest. On Saturday, May 18 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the library will be a buzz with  activists, gardeners, vendors, beekeepers and nature lovers – all gathered in the name of learning new ways to get their hands dirty.

“We’re looking forward to having bigger crowds (this year). We definitely have more vendors and more organizations than we did in the past, and we also have more workshops,” said Production Librarian Erin Helmrich. “The idea being that we really wanted to have a diverse audience; people that are new to these concepts and people that might already be intense gardeners and they just want to learn.”

The efforts of the festival have evolved from focusing on sustaining the environment to consider human wellness as a factor in that goal as well.

“The whole idea is for people that want to become more hands-on and DIY about how they live,” Helmrich said. “Whether they own a house and can do a garden themselves, or they just want to be a little bit more mindful. So the learning sessions are all based around different ways to get active outdoors and get exposed to gardening including taking care of animals.”

The workshops and activities range from soap making to growing your own microgreens to raising chickens to beekeeping. However beyond learning new skills the thrust of the festival is aimed toward growing the network of nature-minded people for broader change.

“We also have 10 local organizations that are going to be there for people that want to get more active in the community,” Helmrich says. “People from Ann Arbor Backyard beekeepers, Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Recycle Ann Arbor, Natural Area preservation, to name a few.”

More products, along with food, will be available this year, too.

“In addition to that we also have a whole vendor area with 26 different vendors that are selling handmade and repurposed materials. We also have people selling plants,” Helmrich said. “Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea always brings refreshments and different baked goods to sell and that’s always nice because people don’t have to go out after.”

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