As we started to think about highlighting another special UC Cooperative Extension volunteer, it was a no-brainer to come up with Florence Nishida's name. In fact, her name flashed in bright, neon lights through our minds.
Nishida sits at the center of the LA gardening world. As a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer, she trained many new gardeners and helped sprout community gardeners throughout the county. One of her first students was artist Ron Finley, who has been celebrated for his inspirational talk on TED.com about urban gardening. With Finley, Nishida went on to co-found "Green Grounds" to install gardens in the underserved neighborhoods in and around South LA one yard at a time.
Born in Boyle Heights and raised in South LA, near USC and the Natural History Museum of LA County, Nishida is a research associate (mycologist) at the museum and is an instructor of edible gardening in the old neighborhood of Exposition Park. This area is locally considered to be a "food desert" due to its limited access to good markets and fresh, healthy food. Wanting to encourage residents to grow their own food, Nishida developed a plan to teach families how to transform a water-wasting lawn into an attractive, productive and edible garden.
"We bring people together to build edible front yard gardens for free. It's a great model for a neighborhood, and it really starts conversations and interactions among people, making the community safer and people more involved with each other," said Nishida.
Since late 2010, Nishida has helped launch 24 gardens. Unfortunately, four of the early ones have dissolved due to various reasons, such as evictions, failing health and dog damage. In order to help sustain the existing gardens, Nishida and her collaborators visit gardens, offer technical assistance and organize work parties. Her hope is that these gardens inspire and encourage others to copy this effort by creating their own edible gardens.
"Florence 'grows' gardeners through her inspiration and knowledge, enabling everyone to not only grow their own vegetables and fruits, but to share them and their new skills with their neighbors," said Yvonne Savio, program manager of the UC Cooperative Extension's Common Ground Garden Program.
For more information about UC Cooperative Extension's gardening and horticulture programs, visit http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu.
Rosales has more than 10 years of experience delivering services in nutrition therapy and education, personal training and community development. Before joining UCCE, she worked as a registered dietitian at a residential eating disorder treatment center for adolescent boys and girls. She also worked as a nutrition services consultant for the Covina Valley Unified School District, a staff research associate for UCLA, and as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension investigating nutrition, exercise, eating disorders, body disturbances and childhood obesity.
Rosales earned her bachelor's degree in kinesiology from USC and a master's degree in nutritional science from Cal State LA.
"I look forward to working with Drusilla. She understands the critical nutrition issues facing our local communities, and I believe she will contribute much to Cooperative Extension," said Keith Nathaniel, UCCE county director for Los Angeles County.
Rosales enjoys spending time with her husband, 1 1/2 year-old daughter and boxer. In her spare time, she watches USC football and Dodger baseball and practices yoga. She can be reached at (626) 586-1948, firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to horticulture and gardening experts at UC Cooperative Extension, there are several ways to be water-wise and save money this summer. By employing water-saving strategies, gardeners can grow most plants adequately while realizing 20 to 50 percent of savings.
For lawns, reduce sprinkler time to a maximum of two or three times a week for 10 minutes each time--and that's during extremely hot weather.
For landscaped areas, consider a trickle or drip system, which applies water into the root zone with minimal surface wetting. Also, check for leaks in your sprinkler system and make the necessary repairs to avoid water waste.
Control weeds as much as possible. They compete for water, light and nutrients. Remove the weeds when they're small to avoid reseeding later.
Water early in the morning before sunrise to reduce evaporation.
Apply three to four inches of mulch around trees and woody plants. Mulching materials help reduce water evaporation from the surface, control weeds and buffer soil temperatures. Plant-based materials will additionally benefit the soil by gradually decomposing and augmenting soil nutrition.
Prune trees and other woody plants as little as necessary, as it stimulates growth and the need for more water.
"The best practice is to teach plants to grow deeply for water early on in the season by watering infrequently and deeply. If you water frequently and not deeply, the roots will stay in the top six inches of the soil, and be subject to drying out and dying during extended hot weather," says Yvonne Savio, UC Cooperative Extension's Common Ground Garden Program manager.
For more information on water conservation methods around the home garden, visit the Common Ground Garden Program. You can also contact the Master Gardener Help Line at (626) 586-1988, email@example.com.
Water. We drink it, cook with it, grow food with it, bathe with it, play in it and suppress fire with it. Although water is essential for life on this planet, it is constantly at risk.
The need to protect and manage watersheds and water resources, along with the natural ecosystems that depend on them, is at the top of the task list for many government agencies, nonprofit organizations and community groups.
The Regional Area Safety Task Force, of which UC Cooperative Extension is a founding and active member, will host a one-day fire summit called Water Resources and Watershed Protection Before and After Fire on May 15 in Diamond Bar, Calif. The event will bring together fire and water experts from the University of California, California Department of Water Resources, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Los Angeles County Fire Department and other leading agencies to focus on protecting water resources and managing fire risk with a watershed-based planning approach that balances environmental, social and economic needs.
"Some of the most important and urgent issues we need to address now are about changes in fire and water, and as they related to climate change and urban growth," said Sabrina Drill, natural resources advisor in Los Angeles County. "This conference will present a solid scientific foundation to these issues," she added.
When: May 15, 2013 from 8 am to 4 pm
Where: South Coast Air Quality Management District Headquarters at 21865 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar, Calif. 91765
For more information on UC Cooperative Extension's fire programs, visit the Natural Resources website.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
When actress Rene Russo appeared in a video (posted above) about "New Oak Threats," she wasn't acting. The veteran of big-budget thrillers like Lethal Weapon 3 and 4 and the Thomas Crown Affair expressed her personal convictions when she called for Californians to become educated and observant guardians of California oaks.
"I love our beautiful oak trees," Russo said. "But there's a new pest in town, and we could potentially lose every tree that we have. It would change the face of Southern California. It's terrifying."
The actress says the death of 80,000 oak trees in San Diego County since 2008 from goldspotted oak borer is one example of the devastation wreaked by one invasive pest.
"We need your help to save the trees," Russo said.
The video presents the tell-tale signs of two serious threats to oaks - goldspotted oak borers (GSOB), which leave "D" shaped exit holes in the bark, and polyphagous shot hole borers (PSHB), which exit bark from small, black rimmed holes surrounded by wood discoloration.
Goldspotted oak borer, a native of southeastern Arizona, feed beneath the bark of certain oak trees. After several years, the damage to nutrient- and water-conducting tissue kills the tree.
Polyphagous shot hole borer carries a fungus from tree to tree when it burrows in bark to lay eggs. The fungus grows and spreads throughout susceptible trees. Some trees suffer branch die-back, which others are killed outright. The polyphagous shot hole borer is not only a threat to oaks but it can also affect more than 200 other tree species, including native California sycamore, avocado, and many popular street tree species.
"It's really a whole landscape changer," said arborist Rosi Dagit of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. "All of our street trees, our urban landscape trees and all of our wildland trees are at risk. What we really need are eyes on the ground."
In the second half of the video, Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension's natural resource advisor in Los Angeles County, explains what Southern Californians can do to protect trees.
- Visit the website Southern California Oak Pests (http://ucanr.edu/socaloakpests) to learn about the pests.
- Educate your friends, neighbors and community leaders about the pests.
- Don't move firewood in and out of your local area. If you buy firewood, ask where it came from. On camping trips, burn wood you collect or purchase and don't take any home. For more on firewood, see the website www.dontmovefirewood.org.
- Learn what to look for and report your observations on the Southern California oak pests website (http://ucanr.edu/socaloakpests).
- Be an advocate for your trees.
"Hopefully, we can get this done," Russo said. "We've lived with these beautiful oak trees for thousands of years. It would be devastating to lose them."
The video, a joint effort of UC Cooperative Extension and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, was produced, directed and edited by Toby Keeler of Fine Cut Inc.