Notes from the Field: The Value of Community-Based Native Plant Nurseries
Earth Day is known as a time to celebrate the wondrous biological diversity on this planet and the tremendous efforts people throughout the world are undertaking to protect, conserve, and restore nature’s finite and fragile ecosystems. Here at Save The Bay, over 60 volunteers came out to remove invasive species and plant over 300 seedlings along the Ravenswood pond levee in the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. For many of our members, volunteering to help protect the environment happens more once a year; hundreds of volunteers join Save The Bay’s restoration efforts every weekend.
So many Bay Area residents are committed to protecting the places where we live, work, and play. Tens of thousands of people are getting involved by improving environmental practices at home, joining coastal and river clean-up activities, and restoring critical wildlife habitat. In fact, there are nearly 30 community-based native plant nurseries propagating plants for ecological restoration projects throughout the region. The scale of this effort, growing and planting hundreds of thousands of native seedlings each year is unprecedented. No other region in the nation is undergoing such large scale community-based conservation and restoration efforts.
As the Nursery Manager for Save The Bay, I was alarmed and saddened to read in the San Francisco Chronicle that one native plant nursery was vandalized during Earth Day weekend; tools broken, benches overturned, and thousands of native seedlings, some that take many years to grow, were destroyed. The non-profit organization, Literacy for Environmental Justice operates a community-based native plant nursery in the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area where they work with volunteers to educate youth and propagate thousands of native seedlings for restoration. According to LEJ Executive Director and Nursery Manager, Patrick Rump, many of the destroyed seedlings were bound for the Yosemite Slough Wetland Restoration Project.
Native seedlings are not just little plants, they are symbols of hope and resilience in both ecological and human communities. From my experience at community-based nurseries, the process of growing plants is really a process of growing people. Many volunteers have shared with me how this process was peaceful and healing for them to be able to take care of their community and connect to nature. I will never know what drives some to commit destructive acts, but I do find hope as I continue to learn what drives so many people to get involved in environmental restoration.
I encourage all of you to get involved in the many community-based native plant nurseries throughout the bay area region. Learn about the importance and diversity of native flora, make new friends, and get involved in the process of restoring our communities, one plant and person at a time.
- Doug Serrill, Nursery Manager