City Plants and LA's "Team Trees" Awarded $50K for Commonwealth Nursery in LA2050 Competition

Posted on 07/08/2021
Commonwealth nursery with hills of Griffith Park in background

The City Plants / LA City "team trees" collaboration has won second place, by popular vote, and will receive $50,000 to make LA the "best place to live" as part of the LA2050 contest. The grant will support the City's collaborative efforts at the Commonwealth Nursery, a historic City tree and plant nursery in Griffith Park. 

“Growing our tree canopy is a powerful tool in the work of protecting our planet ― bringing cooler temperatures, helping clean our air, and making our communities more beautiful," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Thank you Los Angeles and LA2050 for supporting the incredible work of City Plants and our departments to establish the Commonwealth Nursery, which will play an integral role in bringing trees to neighborhoods across Los Angeles."

The Commonwealth Nursery is a public-private partnership to grow climate and community resilience in Los Angeles. At the height of its production in the 1930s, it provided over a million plants and trees annually for City projects, but it has been largely unused as a nursery space since the 1970s - until now. Located on a historic 11-acre site in Griffith Park, the historic City tree and plant nursery serves as an urban ecological laboratory and training grounds to support LA’s tree canopy equity goals, creating a more livable and resilient city for all Angelenos. Commonwealth Nursery is now the subject of a unique partnership that includes City Plants, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Department (RAP), LA Parks Foundation, Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC), the LA Department of Public Works and others who are working together in an attempt to revive this hidden gem.

“Trees not only improve air quality, they provide shade that can cool down our city and help our customers reduce their home energy costs,” said Nancy Sutley, LADWP’s Senior Assistant General Manager of External and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer. “This is why LADWP is thrilled with our continued partnership with City Plants to combat the heat island effect, one free tree giveaway at a time. Congratulations, City Plants!”

This project, "From Little Seeds Grow Mighty Trees," will establish the site as a tree nursery once again to provide more resilience for the City’s urban forest, including seeds for future trees and plants on public and private land throughout Los Angeles. Commonwealth serves as a catalyst to grow trees from locally-sourced seeds, train the next generation of urban forest stewards, and grow the green jobs of the future. 

Rachel Malarich, Los Angeles City Forest Officer, said, "By providing a consistent source of new trees and seed stock, something that can be very elusive, this project will help Los Angeles go a long way toward reaching Mayor Garcetti's Green New Deal goals of increasing tree canopy cover in underserved communities."

RAP has a 10 week training course for new staff to their Maintenance and Operation division, which are good-paying, green jobs with growth potential for the future. Along with RAP, LACC has a nursery manager and corps members that are currently maintaining the small nursery space. Funding from the LA2050 grant will help City Plants develop the curriculum and add to the number of corps members trained as well as support the budding tree nursery with core infrastructure. 

"On behalf of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, I would like to congratulate City Plants for the incredible work they have been doing across the city to make our communities greener, better, and more resilient,” said General Manager Mike Shull. "We look forward to collaborating with them on this project as it truly is a testament to what parks mean to people and the vital role they play in everyday life."

Through the collaborative work at the Commonwealth Nursery, City Plants seeks to grow community resilience, biodiversity, and tree canopy equity across LA. Funds will expand nursery infrastructure to grow more climate-ready trees to distribute to Angelenos through the City Plants’ and LADWP’s Free Trees Program, with priority to low canopy neighborhoods in support of Mayor Garcetti’s Green New Deal goals. Our urban forest is most resilient when stewarded by local communities themselves which is why the Green Workforce Development Program will allow at-risk young adults, alongside Recreation and Parks staff, to learn about tree and plant propagation for a climate-ready future.

Rachel O'Leary, Program Director for City Plants, said, "Gaining the resources to reinvigorate the Commonwealth Nursery will not only be great for urban cooling in our City, but it will also allow us to use this unique site to further City goals for job development and equal access to job opportunities in a green growth industry like urban forestry."

Watch a short video about the Commonwealth Nursery project on YouTube.