live / 2016

Creating Mother Nature's Metropolis

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Grown in LA

Grown in LA and partners will reinvigorate an underutilized site in Griffith Park into an outdoor laboratory that grows and conducts research on climate-appropriate plants for cities in southern CA.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

The Nature Conservancy, City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, and Los Angeles Parks Foundation.

Please describe your project proposal.

Grown in LA will work to reinvigorate a relic nursery in the heart of LA’s largest public space - Griffith Park! This project will convert an underutilized plot of land into an outdoor urban laboratory that will grow climate-appropriate plants for public parks and LA River restoration projects; conduct cutting-edge research on urban ecology; and engage Angelenos through educational opportunities.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Waterways
  • Exposure to air toxins
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Local water
  • Resilient communities
  • Tree canopy cover

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • City of Los Angeles
  • N/A

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

In the coming decades, millions of native plants will be needed for restoration and urban greening projects along Los Angeles’ waterways, public open spaces, and private properties—a supply that does not currently exist in the LA area. This lack of plant material seriously jeopardizes our ability to successfully transform LA into a more livable city. Grown in LA (GiLA) is working to create a more resilient Los Angeles by converting underutilized land within the urban core into a network of nurseries/urban ecology centers that provide Angelenos with both a viable source of locally-collected and locally-grown climate-appropriate plants, as well as much-needed opportunities to engage in urban conservation.

Grown in LA seeks to create a model for civic ecology in our city by developing a pilot project on an underutilized nursery within Griffith Park—LA’s largest publicly accessible urban open space. The Grown in LA Outdoor Urban Laboratory (LAb) will help the City of LA’s Department of Recreation and Parks and the Los Angeles Parks Foundation preserve the site’s historic use and begin to actualize the future vision of the space as a facility for innovative collaboration, education and research.

Creating a pilot nursery at this centralized location will provide a highly visible and accessible testing ground for innovative plant research and production that can translate to more efficient practices used by the public, agencies and other professionals. The LAb will serve as the flagship site that tests out best practices to be applied to other locations around the region. Under the scientific expertise and guidance of The Nature Conservancy, Grown in LA will conduct research on plant propagation techniques, climate adaptation, urban trees, and water management. Plants grown on site will be used in ecological restoration projects in Griffith Park and along the LA River. The site will host demonstration installations that reacquaint urban dwellers with nature and illustrate how ecology can regenerate and thrive in the midst of human activity and climate change.

We envision a future where public and private spaces within our region function as habitat for plants, pollinators, and animals–including us! People are a part of nature and when we enhance and engage with nature we tend to be healthier and happier. LA’s Mediterranean climate is rare, covering only about 5% of land mass globally but home to over 20% of the world’s biodiversity. Our climate is also one reason so many people want to live in LA, so we need to create a model for working with it instead of against it. Investing in the upstart of the Grown in LA Outdoor Urban Laboratory will help to develop this model and promote healthier habitats in LA that are livable for plants, wildlife, and Angelenos–ultimately transforming our region into a metropolis that works in harmony with Mother Nature.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

The success of the Grown in LA Outdoor Urban Laboratory will be defined and measured by the following: the completion of a fully-functional propagation and research facility, which will be measured by the re-purposing of existing materials from the old nursery site when possible, the incorporation of locally-sourced and/or environmentally-responsible materials when appropriate, and the use of water- and energy-efficiency systems; the development and execution of cutting-edge urban ecological research, which will be measured by the number of research projects and their practicality of application in Los Angeles; the contribution of plant material to local restoration efforts, which will be measured by the number of plants propagated and installed in local Los Angeles water-wise and urban restoration projects; and the number of people who engage with the LAb through volunteer and research project opportunities as well as through educational programming.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research
  • N/A