It has been exactly eight months since we went on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, we have seen a significant reduction in earned income, but more people are coming to the garden, since we have remained open while beaches, playgrounds, paid access gardens and national parks closed. Many of our regular volunteers stopped coming as many of them are high-risk including our Director of Horticulture, Leigh Talmo, who is a breast cancer survivor.

This is why we took the precaution of temporarily closing the garden on Tuesdays while we conduct maintenance. With the all time record breaking heat, ongoing 100+ degree days (now a month into fall) smoke from devastating wildfires since August, we haven’t been able to garden as much, yet Arlington remains healthy, albeit a little more wild than usual.

We don’t mow and blow, which causes noise and air pollution, and I know that many of you are thankful for that. Our method of gardening is slow, and we hope that you bear with us as we try to adjust to these unprecedented difficulties. We accomplish a lot with very little, and the recent success of our crowdfunding campaign demonstrates how important our garden is to our community. However, a garden of our size and complexity requires at least two full time gardening staff. Currently, we have about 60 hours a month of paid gardening staff time, when really we need over 300 hours per month.

Many of you may notice the changes over the past few years in how we garden for habitat. We continue to focus on our mission as a climate-appropriate habitat garden offering learning, education and inspiration for all, and we appreciate your patience and compassion as we work behind the scenes.

Thank goodness garden designer Mayita Dinos, and founders Betty and Charles McKenney had the foresight to create a demonstration garden that uses sustainable, organic, ecological, habitat gardening, or what is now popularly called “regenerative” gardening. If you scroll down to the bottom of this update, you will find some resources that help explain why we do what we do and talk about regenerative gardening.

Thank you!

Michelle Matthews, Executive Director of Arlington Garden in Pasadena

“What is Regenerative Gardening?” (video by Farmer Rishi Kumar) 

Farmer Rishi of Healing Gardens Co discusses his inspiring vision of gardening that involves giving up control. Rishi ask us to consider the question “What is this tree and its surrounding plant community asking of me?” rather than “Here is what the tree (separate from its community) needs!”

Regenerative Gardening: techniques for growing a healthy planet (video by Levi Brewster)

Arlington Garden‘s resident Learning Naturalist, Levi Brewster, discusses some of the basic techniques of regenerative gardening and how to think about the role of the gardener during this period of global environmental degeneration. This fun and very clear presentation was developed for an broad audience as part of the American Horticultural Society Youth Symposium in 2020.

Gather (film by Sanjay Rawal)

Broadening and tightening focus, this recent film presents “an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.”

You can stream Gather on iTunesAmazon, or Vimeo On Demand. Check out this recent review of the film in the NYT.

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