2022 Grants Challenge

The Climate-Resilient Gardeners Program

Arlington Garden is a 3-acre community-built botanical garden on an abandoned Caltrans lot. A thriving demonstration of regenerative, climate-appropriate gardening, Arlington is where sustainability and environmental justice grow. We’re ready to amplify our impact by creating The Climate Resilient Gardeners Program] for home gardeners, landscaping professionals, and young people from under-served communities. Participants and garden visitors will learn to fight climate change through innovative garden design, build, and maintenance practices.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Climate and Environment

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

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Gardening methods are important determinants of our climate future; protecting against climate change and environmental injustice. In LA, 85% of water is imported from sources straining for supply as climate aridification increases. Drought is intensifying. Tree canopy and access to green, natural and wild spaces are deeply inequitable. Ecosystems are damaged by climate change and fragmented by urbanization. Residential, commercial, and municipal gardens are key sites to protect, enhance, and future-proof our local urban environment. A well-designed garden will decrease water use, enhance wellbeing, rebuild ecosystems, increase shade, reduce urban heat island effect, sequester carbon, and uplift neighborhoods. Climate-resilient gardening - lawn replacement, rainwater capture, soil regeneration, and appropriate plant selections - can and will regenerate LA. People need to learn how to garden this way. We’re ready to teach them.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Our pilot will teach people how to design, build and maintain climate-resilient gardens to help safeguard LA’s climate future. We’ll create training opportunities for three cohorts: residents with access to a yard, landscaping professionals, and youth from under-served communities building careers in the environmental sector. Our classroom will be Arlington Garden - a thriving 3-acre public garden. We were a vacant lot for over 40 years, meant to be the staging ground for the 710 freeway. For 17 years now, we’ve been redressing environmental injustice. Arlington thrives on 90,000 gallons of water a month, just 56% of Pasadena’s average consumption. We’ll liaise with our network of community partners to build innovative curricula and attract diverse participants. Professional and amateur gardeners will apply transformative climate-resilient practices where they live and work. Stipends will be paid to participants, in line with our priority of access for people from under-served communities. Until now, too many Angelenos have gardened in spite of our climate: water-hungry lawns, unsuitable plant palettes, excessive fire risk, and a lack of appreciation for the signature features of a Southern California garden. The Climate-Resilient Gardeners Program will road-test a new, and much-needed, educational strategy, inspiring and transforming at least 63 acres of private, public, and commercial gardens into places that safeguard our climate future, rather than jeopardize it.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

LA County will have access to a climate-resilient gardening training, so that amateur, professional, and emerging gardeners can create and maintain sustainable gardens that thrive in future climate conditions and mitigate climate change. The curriculum will be open source. Pilot graduates will have an impact across the County. Arlington Garden will be an ever-more compelling demonstration site. We have almost two decades of success as a volunteer-led, community-built, thriving urban forest and there’s nowhere else like Arlington in Southern California. We are uniquely positioned to lead the way in climate-resilient gardening practices. We will spark dialogue and action about impacts of residential, commercial, and municipal gardens. Until now, many Southland gardens have been designed with little regard to our unique ecology and the pressures of catastrophic climate change. We will show, and tell, that there is a restorative and enlivening way to garden better for people and planet.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our primary program goal is for all enrollees to graduate as skilled and influential climate-resilience gardeners. We will measure progress through staff check-ins, and mid-and-end-of-program surveys. Mentor outreach will calibrate the training to be responsive to student needs, making it more likely that they will excel in the program. The surveys will give us valuable qualitative information about the curriculum to inform future iterations. This program is about paradigm shifts. We define success as trainee engagement and them having the confidence to influence others.The curriculum will include change-making, and we will stay in contact with participants upon completion. Within the months of graduation, all members of the cohort will be invited back to the Garden and paid to teach a workshop related to their work in the landscape or environmental sector. We will check-in with participants and track their success in climate-resilient gardening at 6-month, and 1-and 2-year intervals.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 650

Indirect Impact: 75,742