Native Here Nursery, a project of East Bay CNPS, a non-profit dedicated to preserving California’s native flora for future generations, is devoted to local native flora exclusively from Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Conservation and restoration are at the heart of our mission, and the nursery is dependent on community engagement from enthusiastic volunteers to keep running.

We depend entirely on volunteers to keep the nursery going and there are many ways for volunteers with many backgrounds and skills to be involved!

NHN Volunteer Requests for June, 2019

Summary (for details see below):

  1. Soil Wrangler – sterilize soil and pots before use to combat pathogens
  2. Plant Inventory Specialist – take inventories of plants in production and on the sales floor
  3. Plant Propagator – we would like to greatly expand the ground covers we offer
  4. Repot specimen plants – replenish their soil and root-trim if necessary (training provided)
  5. Infrastructure Inventory – take an accurate inventory and price items on it for insurance
  6. Waterer – our plants need watering twice a week during the dry season (timing flexible)
  7. Plant Groomer – keep our plants healthy and beautiful
  1. Associate Soil Wrangler

Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

Objective: Native Here Nursery specializes in growing locally- and ethically-sourced native plants from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. We pride ourselves on growing plants that are healthy, locally-adapted, and ready to thrive in the kinds of environments they evolved in. As a result, some of our plants are used in restoration projects. We need to be sure our plants are free from disease, including Sudden Oak Death, which can be spread through container stock. In the past few years, NHN has implemented a number of practices to ensure that plants are disease-free, including heat-treating pots and soil prior to use. This is proving to be a significant task, and the Lead Soil Wrangler is looking for a pardner to keep the soil supply moving along the trail. We are still fine-tuning our procedures, so a thoughtful, observant wrangler is especially appreciated.

Qualifications: Physical: Must be able to shovel soil, lift or carry 40 lb containers for short distances, push a cart on flat gravel with 75-100 lbs of soil. Organizational and communication: Must be able to follow soil and pot sanitizing protocols and documentation. Coordinate work in progress with Lead Soil Wrangler.

Responsibilities: Empty pots of used soil, fill soil sterilizer and initiate operation, empty sanitized soil and pots into clean containers, document in logbook and label containers as needed, coordinate with other soil wranglers to ensure efficient use of the sterilizer and a continuous, adequate supply of clean soil for plant production.

Time commitment: Minimum five hours per week, flexible. Lead wrangler is at Nursery on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons. Once trained, associate wrangler can run a load of soil and do other tasks at other times, even when Nursery is closed.

Training/Support: Lead Soil Wrangler will train. Other knowledgeable people are around during all open hours (Tu 12-3, F 9-12, Sa 10-2) and available by phone.

Benefits: Satisfaction that an important and necessary aspect of phytosanitation is being implemented, and also promoting sustainability: all soil and containers can be re-used if sanitized. 

 Supervisor: Steve Toby, Lead Soil Wrangler.

Whom to contact: Steve Toby, SteveToby@comcast.net

  1. Plant Inventory Specialist

 Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

Objectives: (1) Create an inventory of our plants in production with numbered locations, and (2) do the annual ground-truthing of the inventory of plants for sale.  NHN has some 150-200 species in production at any given time, and needs to track the plants’ number, container size, and origin as well as their location in the Nursery.

Qualifications: Attention to detail is essential, and knowledge of plant scientific names is helpful but not required. 

Responsibilities: Count and record numbers of each plant accession, then update the spreadsheets (one for plants currently for sale, another for plants in production).

Time commitment: About 25-30 hours for each inventory. Responsibilities can be shared with another person. Once trained, work can be performed when Nursery is closed, but it’s probably more fun when Nursery is open.

Training/Support: Beth Wurzburg will provide training and support. As with all aspects of the Nursery, many volunteers are available during open hours to answer questions about plants.

Benefits: An accurate, up-to-date inventory is an essential part of good customer relations and necessary to the success of Native Here Nursery. Taking an inventory is a unique opportunity to visit and observe every single species of plant in production, a great way to get to know them all.

Supervisor: Beth Wurzburg.

Whom to contact: Volunteer coordinator Ruth Ann Pearsons at rapearsons1@mac.com

  1. Ground Cover Propagation Specialist

Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

Objective: Ground covers are one of the most popular forms of native plants for home gardeners; everyone has some garden ground that needs covering! A current goal of Native Here Nursery is to greatly increase our supply of ground covers, especially wild strawberry and minty yerba buena, which are in great demand. Rough-leaf aster also may be grown.

Qualifications: Experience growing plants from cuttings is welcome, but not a requirement. You will learn from the best.  Best practices for propagating cuttings are well documented and available.

Responsibilities: Using nursery best practices for propagating cuttings, collect strawberry, yerba buena and rough-leaf aster from within Native Here Nursery, clean and sanitize cuttings, prepare potting trays, strike cuttings, and document. Regularly check on progress, and when root development is sufficient, pot up into individual containers.

Time commitment: 8-16 hours per month. Looking for a commitment for two years of propagation, one year minimum.

Training/Support: Native Here Nursery’s written best practices are an excellent starting point for preparing healthy plants from cuttings. John Danielsen, the Nursery’s cuttings propagation expert, will train to start. Once cuttings are placed in soil, they will be watered by others as part of maintenance in the growing area. Many other volunteers are available for advice.

Benefits: Satisfaction of growing beautiful, healthy native plants in high demand by gardeners, working with and learning from other native plant experts.

Supervisor: John Danielsen, cuttings specialist at Native Here Nursery.

Whom to contact: Barbara Leitner, bleitner@pacbell.net

  1. Infrastructure Inventory Specialist

Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

 Objective: Refine our Nursery inventory to provide more detailed and accurate descriptions of tools, equipment, and infrastructure. A “first-pass” inventory was completed in 2018 including several hundred lines (and a couple thousand items) described generally. This refinement would allow for accurate, in-kind replacement in the event of a loss involving an insurance claim.

Qualifications: Ability to use an Excel spreadsheet and internet to develop a more complete description and valuation of tools, equipment, supplies and infrastructure.

Responsibilities: The “first-pass” spreadsheet inventory will be provided which describes the location and a description of materials present at the Nursery. Specialist will add additional detail, such as the model, size, and value of each item, to the existing inventory.

Time commitment: This is a one-time project estimated to require 30-40 hours. Can be carried out during Nursery open hours (Tu 12-3, F 9-12, Sa 10-2).

Training/Support: Barbara Leitner, creator of the initial inventory, will show the Infrastructure Inventory Specialist around the Nursery and answer any questions about the spreadsheet and information needs.

Benefits: Although we take precautions, there is always the possibility of fire, earthquake, theft, etc. An up-to-date and accurate inventory will allow us to recover losses should they occur.

Supervisor: Barbara Leitner

Whom to contact: Barbara Leitner, bleitner@pacbell.net

  1. Repotting Specimen Plants

 Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

Objective: Rejuvenate specimen display plants. Native Here Nursery boasts an estimated 150 specimen plants—large, mature plants that show customers the size and form of plants for sale in the Nursery.  Most specimen plants are in 15-gallon containers, and have been for years.  Most need to be root-trimmed, and soil replenished for optimum growth and good appearance.

Qualifications: Requires a team of two people each capable of lifting about 30 lbs.

Responsibilities: Using “phytosanitation” best practices, go to each specimen plant, lay out a tarp for a work area, de-pot, trim roots, re-pot with additional soil, settle, water in, replace identification labels, and replace securely on low pedestals (existing). Document which plants have been repotted. Dispose of trimmed material and sanitize tarp before next use.

Time commitment: This is a one-time project. Estimate a team of two people could complete in about 40 hours spread out in 4-hour sessions.

Training/Support: John Danielsen, expert propagator, will demonstrate repotting methods. Other volunteers are always around for assistance and to answer questions.

Benefits: This is a long-overdue and much-needed project to beautify Native Here Nursery and ensure the health of our specimen plants.

Supervisor: John Danielsen

Whom to contact: Ruth Ann Pearsons at rapearsons1@mac.com

  1. Waterer

Objective:  During the dry season, our plants need hand watering twice a week to keep them thriving.  Adopt a section as your own, come weekly, or come when you can, and enjoy being in a beautiful place among the plants and birds.  A section takes 1-1.5 hours to water.  Brief training required.

Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

 Time commitment: Flexible; come when you can from now until the rains start.  Regular waterers are especially appreciated.  Once you are trained, you can choose your own hours.

Training/Support:   Beth Wurzberg and other Native Here volunteers

Benefits: The satisfaction of knowing that you’re keeping our native plants alive and healthy, and the joy of being in a natural, peaceful environment.

Supervisor:  Beth Wurzburg

Whom to contact: Ruth Ann Pearsons at rapearsons1@mac.com

  1. Plant Groomer

Location: Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park (near Berkeley)

Objective: Groom plants on the sales floor by removing dead leaves and unsightly stems. Not only does this make our plants look better, it helps to keep them healthy as well.

Qualifications: Ability to reach into plant cages, wield clippers, and willingness to adhere to plant sanitation practices according to the Native Here Grooming Training module

Responsibilities: As trained and directed by senior volunteers, use Nursery tools such as clippers, mini-rakes and collection buckets to remove dead and unsightly plant material from plants on the sales floor. Sanitize tools before and after completing a table or species group, and dispose of trimmed material appropriately.

Time commitment: Very flexible. Minimum commitment of 20 hours, can be done over any period of time.

Training/Support: Plant groomer will be supplied with the plant grooming training module. Training will be carried out by an experienced Nursery volunteer. Experienced  volunteers are always available to answer questions during open Nursery hours.

Benefits: Plant grooming is peaceful, meditative work, provides the satisfaction of making the natural even more beautiful, and maintains plant health.

Supervisor: Beth Wurzburg

We can talk about how volunteering at Native Here could help you meet requirements for high school or college courses.

Ready to get involved?

Email us at nativehere@ebcnps.org or call the nursery at 510-549-0211 for more information about any of our volunteer opportunities or if you would like to sign up to participate.