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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


Welcome 2023!

This week Cultivating Place kicks off a multi-part series devoted to the international, national, and statewide and local conservation efforts collectively known as 30 x 30 – a multi-faceted commitment by governments, agencies, and localities to securely preserve 30% of our world’s biodiversity by 2030.

While President Joe Biden committed to the goals of the 30 x 30 conservation concept within a week of taking office in January of 2021, the state of California had already committed to the vision in late 2020 with Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of the Executive Order N-82-20 outlining and financially supporting the State of California to preserving 30% of its land and water biodiversity, as overseen by California’s Secretary of Natural Resources since 2019, Wade Crowfoot.

The first in our series of conversations with people engaged in envisioning and engineering the 30 x 30 conservation projects coming from federal, state and local levels - and we hope into our very back yards - is with Jennifer Norris, the Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat at the California Natural Resources Agency – where she leads the state's 30x30 initiative being carried out by many agencies and organizations and she oversees "Cutting Green Tape" in support of landscape scale habitat restoration.

Follow California's 30 x 30 efforts online through;

and the Federal level efforts at:


you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:

Lenses on the Everyday and Sacred, Kristin Perers

Generosity & Mutual Care of Seeds, K Greene Hudson Valley Seeds

JOIN US again next week, when we continue our multi-part series to kick off 2023 devoted to the international, national, and statewide endeavors to securely preserve 30% of our world’s biodiversity by 2030 in conversation with Jun Bando, the new Executive Director of the California Native Plant Society, and Liv O’Keefe, CNPS’s senior director of public affairs. The two will be sharing more about the role of Native Plant Societies writ large in supporting and in many cases leading locally led 30 x 30 restoration. Listen in.

Speaking of Plants and Place.....

Speaking of plants and place – biodiversity and habitat protection – this week we check in on the Alders.

In the last week, in my garden, we have had close to 5 inches of fully welcome rain which has translated to a good bit of snow in higher elevations. Not far from us, along a nearby creek, and older alder, already draped in its beautiful and characteristic chartreuse green January catkins, came crashing down. John and I clipped back some of the catkin laid in branches, and I made a New Year’s wreath for the front gate out of them.

You might be familiar with the idea of a Celtic or Ogham alphabet of trees wherein Alder corresponds with the letter F, or even a Celtic calendar of trees, in which a different tree is identified with each month on a seasonal basis. If January as a month was going to be represented by a tree in my region, I’d pick an alder to hold this spot for its annual and vibrant show of fresh green fertility kicking off each new year. Alder trees come from the genus Alnus, which "has about 30 species 10 of which are native to North America, and four of which are native to California. All but one, found in South America, or native to the northern hemisphere. The genus is made up of both trees and shrubs. "The leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, elliptical to egg shaped and range from 1 to 6 inches long. The margins are serrated. Leaf tips are sharply pointed... Small pollen, bearing flowers are aggregated in droopy, slender catkins, that measure 2 - 8 inches long. These pollen-bearing catkins form clusters of 3 to 5. The small seed bearing flowers form also form catkins, which are .2 inches - .8 inches long. These occur in clusters of two or three. The seed-bearing catkins produce winged- nutlets enclosed in this woody-when-mature catkin that resemble a conifer cone. Pollen and seed bearing catkins are found on the same tree. Alders typically grow in cool, moist woodlands and forests, generally near streams. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, form root nodules on Alders, adding considerable nitrogen to ecosystems via decaying plant parts.... Leaves and twigs, provide important food for wildlife, and birds rely on Alder buds and seeds for their seasonal food supply.

"The white alder, which is the one that grows along streams and permanent creeks in my area and north to British Columbia, and the full length of the state of California to the south, are shade, tolerant, relatively quick- growing, and at maturity typically grows into a small to medium sized single-stem tree, or colony of such trees. Mature trees can grow upwards of 50- 80 feet tall, and have a narrow canopy, with trunks ranging at maturity from 1 to 2 feet in diameter." However, growing along ever-changing streams and creeks, these trees are often moved or removed by seasonal high water, and will succumb to drought with prolonged low or no water. And so their colonies ebb and flow with their water source. The white alder Alnus rhombifolia is the earliest blooming of the California Alders. Right now, all along the creeks near us in Interior Northern California they are draped in their bright spring, green, male and female catkins. These are often accentuated by clusters of last year’s dark cinnamon colored seed-bearing, cone-like catkins. These bright, green drapey, male and female, catkins are lighting up the otherwise dark and leafless deciduous riparian corridors. These green clusters of life. glisten with raindrops. The entire genus is known for its medicinal and dye-pot uses across its native ranges, but as the California Natural History Guides, Book of Trees and Shrubs of California states, "white alder's greatest value lies in its ability to protect watersheds and provide wildlife habitat" - directly and indirectly. These roles are especially critical in areas subject to development. And I would add, critical in these times.

As we continue in our biodiversity and habitat series, and we consider our gardens through this lens, if you have year-round water, or you can dedicate some consistent water, consider an Alder as your newest tree family tree member.


Thinking out loud this week:

I’m really into Jennifer Norris’s stance that all conservation problems are people problems or people opportunities – what do you say we make them opportunities in which we as the gardeners of the world offer the opportunities of place, plants, and planting the solutions - you in?

I am also holding onto the built-in metrics to quantify progress, for 30 x 30 implementers to be held accountable to milestones, and – maybe especially and building in the idea of gathering the community together share knowledge and share and celebrate success while never taking our eyes and hearts off what still needs doing, what we can all still do….

Accountability and celebration – these seem important to build into our individual gardens too – what do you think? Do you see some of your gardening methods or maps as being accountability or communal celebration? If so – I’d love to hear more about this? You know how to reach me: cultivatingplace@

And thank you to everyone who reached out over the winter holidays, who donated, who shared cultivating place forward on social media or just gardener to gardener – that’s how we best cultivate all of our places and see ourselves communally working toward the same goal….and one way we keep growing in myriad ways.




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