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Julie Cook Kitchener Apr 15, 2024 13:11 pm
Hi all,
Those of you who are interested in encouraging native plant gardens in your region might find some inspiration in World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) “In the Zone” program. The organizers help people transform their outdoor spaces with native plants that support wildlife and restore healthy ecosystems. 
A few common barriers with respect to growing native plants are the following: 
-       Lack of knowledge about which plant species are native
-       Lack of knowledge about the interdependencies between native plants and animals
-       Lack of availability of native plants at garden centres
WWF has partnered with Carolinian Canada and many other organizations to address these barriers. One of the most powerful partnerships is with Loblaw Companies Ltd. Native plants can now be purchased in 120 Loblaws garden centres in southern and eastern Ontario and 10 in southern Quebec. Each native plant has an “In the Zone” tag for easy identification at the point of purchase.
In the Zone Tag

The “In the Zone” website includes a map of where to find native plants at Loblaw garden centres, a list of native plant species in Ontario and Quebec, a list of pop-up stations in garden centres where gardeners can talk to gardening and wildlife experts, a chance to “Track your impact” using citizen science, and the opportunity to connect to an enthusiastic community of like-minded gardeners. 
One element I noticed that was missing was commitments. It would be great to see the organizers encouraging people to commit to growing native plants and then giving them a giveaway like a sticker or something similar so that they can make that commitment visible. This would further bolster social norms around growing native plants. 
So what about the results of the program? According to WWF Canada, in 2021, nearly 70,000 native plants were sold in Ontario and Quebec, which was a 60 percent increase compared to the year before. In total, over 37,000 hectares of land are being managed by “In the Zone” participants. This is really encouraging to see, as there are undoubtedly many people who want to do something about climate change and habitat loss but don’t always have avenues to take action. 
For more information about the “In the Zone” program, please visit WWF’s website here