Volunteers Upgrade SPAWN’s Native Plant Nursery

Volunteers Upgrade SPAWN’s Native Plant Nursery

If you’ve visited SPAWN’s native plant nursery it’s going to look a lot different when we are able to welcome visitors again—pandemic permitting. Over the past year our volunteers, staff and intern crew have been making upgrades to the nursery to support our expanding operations!

SPAWN grows more than 100 species of locally native plants in our nursery to support our ongoing salmon habitat restoration projects, promote biodiversity, and encourage schools and homeowners to garden with plants native to their community. Every seed is collected within the Lagunitas Watershed to ensure we grow the locally native ecotype. We typically have around 8,000 native plants and plugs in our nursery and plant out thousands of plants in restoration projects each year.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work and ingenuity, the nursery is well prepared to continue to grow high quality plants for use in our restoration projects and to supply to residents of the San Geronimo Valley. In addition to growing plants for riparian restoration and redwoods for our 10,000 Redwoods project, SPAWN’s nursery has joined nationwide efforts to protect the endangered monarch butterfly along with native bees and other pollinators. Our increased capacity to grow plants will allow us to expand our efforts to project local wildlife, improve the integrity of ecological systems, and combat climate change.

Soil Bin

Built by Alan Lubow and Melvyn Wright in spring 2019, the new soil bin holds 12 cubic yards of soil, while the old bin only held about 2 cubic yards. Thanks to the new soil bin we are able to have a large load of soil delivered rather than going to pick up soil by the yard. Having soil delivered is much more efficient in terms of staff time and saves wear and tear on our truck, and also greatly reduces the amount of fuel that is used for restocking soil.

Shade Tables

Five new tables with built-in shade structures were built by Eagle Scout Troop 76 in summer 2019. The project was led by Keenan Swenson. Keenan designed the tables and provided all supplies used for the building project, and taught his fellow Scouts basic carpentry skills. In just one volunteer day the Troop built all five tables!

Rodent Resistant Structures

Rodent exclosure cages were built to protect the plants for all tables in both the stream-side and the road-side shadehouses by Dean Hanson during summer and fall 2019 and spring 2020. Guy Thomas lined the base of the entire greenhouse with hardware cloth to strengthen the greenhouse against rodents in November 2020.

Tables

Fifteen tables were built for the main part of the nursery and a small section of the roadside shadehouse by Alan Lubow and Melvyn Wright. The new tables are built with wire surfaces so that they will drain well. In addition, six new tables were built for the streamside shadehouse by Guy Thomas. This shadehouse contains a mist system, so the tables were built with rot-resistant wood (redwood) and contain a plastic surfacing built for good drainage specially designed for nursery benches.

Shelving Units

Two large shelving units were built in summer 2020 by Dean Hanson and Logan Anderson, which are designed specifically to hold clean pots and meet best management practices for pathogen prevention. The first shelf on each of the shelving units is 2 feet above the ground. There is still plenty of space for storage, as each unit contains three shelves which are each eight feet long, four feet wide, and two feet deep.

Improved Organization

Nursery Manager Audrey Fusco has been working on labeling shelves, labeling plants, writing protocol sheets for use by volunteers, expanding the pot-washing station, and making other small improvements to the nursery.

Upcoming Improvements

Currently, Guy Thomas and Dean Hanson are building shade structures which attach to the benches in the main part of the nursery. These structures will help protect the plants from the sun and will reduce the need for watering. Also, Nursery Intern Eleanor Clark is creating a map of the nursery so interns, visitors, and volunteers can easily find their way around the nursery.

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