Have you gotten your hands dirty lately? UCSF has a hidden community gem—the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. The largely undeveloped 61-acre area, just south of the Parnassus campus, provides a peaceful respite from the hustle of the City. Named for its former owner and San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, the Reserve not only provides maintained hiking trails, but a nursery, which provides all organizations in San Francisco an easy opportunity to get their hands dirty.
UCSF granted approval for the native plant nursery in 2009. The native plants grown at the nursery are used for restoration projects in the Reserve, as well as for UCSF landscaping where appropriate. In January of this year, volunteers cleared invasive plants such as sow thistle and H. blackberry from a site that had been planted with indigenous forbs and shurbs to increase biodiversity and sustainable trail access. Over the years, thousands of Sutro Steward volunteers have helped to create this unique urban oasis.
Opportunities to Get Dirty
Every other Wednesday you can volunteer with the Sutro Stewards, working in the nursery—you might get to clear invasive plants, sow seeds, weed or transplant plants. There are also opportunities for volunteers to conduct trail and habitat restoration on Mount Sutro the first Saturday of every month.
Any organization or company can host a ‘stewardship’/team building event at the nursery, on a week day, with a group of 20 or more. Contact the Sutro Stewards for more info.
The Sutro Nursery will be part of a Native Plant Garden Tour organized by Cal Native Plant Society, Yerba Buena Chapter on April 27th, open to the public from 11am – 3pm.
From Nursery to UCSF Landscaping
It is exciting to note that the plants grown at the nursery are not just used in the Reserve, but are also integrated into new construction and restoration projects. According to Julie Sutton, Landscaping and Grounds Supervisor with UCSF Campus Life Services, Facilities Services, whenever maintenance or construction requires landscaping to be replaced, UCSF is replanting with native, drought-resistant plants from the nursery. For example, some of the landscaping at the Aldea Community Center was provided by the nursery. Other UCSF projects that include native plants from the nursery include the new landscaping in front of the Millberry Union and the previous site of 735 Parnassus. Native plants from the nursery will also be used to landscape the new Medical Science building. For new construction projects under the LEED green building standard, UCSF earns points when the site is restored in-part using native species.