Local gardener and Buzz co-founder Julie Grist of Windsor Village shared this story with us about the work that she and fellow gardener Judy Kirshner of Windsor Square have been doing with the non-profit native plant start-up Grown in LA, (GiLA). The organization was founded by Kat Superfisky, a designer, educator, and urban ecologist with Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Science in Conservation Ecology and Teaching Certificate from the University of Michigan and is located in the foothills of Griffith Park in the old Commonwealth Nursery location.
When the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) boldly recommended adopting Alternative 20—the most extensive and robust plan for restoration—in its Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study (ARBOR) in May of 2014, local horticulturalists realized it was both a great opportunity and a great challenge. When implemented, Alternative 20 will restore more than 700 acres along 11 miles of the Los Angeles River. Although the recommendation was a tremendous victory for Los Angeles and its river, the announcement also caused an upswell of concern. Where would the plants come from? Most plants are sourced from outside of our county and state, to meet the demand of current projects. The answer: from right here in Los Angeles. Grown in LA was created to ensure that will be a reality.
In years to come, particularly with the redevelopment of the LA River and urban green space, millions of native plants will be needed for restoration and urban greening projects in the Los Angeles basin. Finding viable native plants, which require little or no irrigation and flourish in our environment, is tremendously difficult given the lack of garden nurseries that grow native plant material. There are not nearly enough native plants available to re-green the many public and private urban projects that are in the works.
“Think about it. The LA River restoration project alone will restore 700 acres along 11 miles of river. That’s a heck of a lot of plants,” said Grist.
GiLA hopes to help solve this problem by working with its partners to build a seed bank. Grist has assisted GiLA staff in collecting seeds over the past year, and learning the proper protocols (using required permits, viability tests, and collection techniques) hopes to collect more seeds with GiLA and a local consortium of nurseries, horticultural and government institutions.
GiLA has also started a small but hearty operation to grow those seeds into plants, and intends to work with existing nurseries and help start new nurseries in the LA region to make native plant material more available. Grist and Kirshner have been working with GiLA’s propagation specialist, Katherine Pakradouni, in propagating native plants including sages, buckwheats, bladderpods and buckeyes, to name a few.
As the GiLA site is further developed and improved, Grist welcomes fellow gardeners and plant lovers to get involved in this worthy project.
Planting the LA River! How cool is that?