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  • Jennifer Jewell


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


Rose Ramirez is a California native plant gardener, basketweaver, photographer, and educator of Chumash descent; Deborah Small is an artist, photographer, and professor at the School of the Arts at California State University San Marcos.

In 2010 the California legislature designated the third week of April as California Native Plant week. In preparation for California Native Plant Week 2022 (April 16 - 23), celebrating the botanical biodiversity of the California Floristic Region, Rose and Deborah join Cultivating Place to share more about their new educational and advocacy initiative, Saging the World, on behalf of California’s iconic native white sage, Saliva apiana, sacred to the Indigenous cultures of what is now Southern California and Baja California, Mexico.

As part of Saging the World, Rose and Deborah, along with David Bryant of the California Native Plant Society, have coproduced a documentary of the same name, which premieres in LA county on Earth Day, and to which all are invited (tickets required): Saging the World Premiere, Earth Day, Friday, April 22 7 pm - 9 pm, Warner Grande Theatre, 78 W 6th St, San Pedro, CA 90731

The film, created to foster awareness and inspire action for white sage, spotlights the ecological and cultural issues intertwined with white sage, centering the voices of Native advocates who have long protected and cherished this plant.

“Saging” has become common in movies, TV shows, social media, and cleansing rituals –people burning sage bundles in the hope of purifying space and clearing bad energy. Instead of healing, the appropriated use of saging in popular culture is having a harmful effect. Indigenous communities have tended a relationship with white sage for thousands of generations. White sage (Salvia apiana) only occurs in southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. Today, poachers are stealing metric tons of this plant from the wild to supply international demand. The screening will include a panel discussion with Native advocates from the film, as well as a white sage plant giveaway.

This Earth Day, go from smudging to seeding as we come together to see plants not just as “resources,” but as “relationships.”

The event is sponsored by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. Photos courtesy of Rose Ramirez and Deborah Small.



Ethnobotany Project: Contemporary Uses of Native Plants | Southern California and Northern Baja California Indians (English and Spanish Edition)

Ethnobotany Calendar: Edible, Medicinal, Material, Ceremonial: Contemporary Ethnobotany of Southern California Indians

Rose Ramirez’s Blog: “Saging the World” essay from News from Native California, Rose Ramirez & Deborah Small

Deborah Small’s Ethnobotany Blog: “Saging the World” essay from News from Native California, Rose Ramirez & Deborah Small

Articles for more information about White Sage

Sage Advice: The ecological and ethical problems of ‘smudging,’” High Country News, Taylar Dawn Stagner

What is going on with White Sage?Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation, Susan Leopold


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

JOIN US again next week, when we head East in conversation with scientist, home gardener and podcaster Nitasha Manchanda of the Indian Edit Podcast – following the inspiring growth, work, and lives of the Indian diaspora. Listen in!


Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.

For more information on their programs and membership, please visit

For more information on SAGING THE WORLD:


Thinking out loud this week:

How we live in the social and economic systems in which we live and we envisioning new ways forward is always about thinking above and beyond – of seeding within the cracks to grow something new out of something old. It is not easy, and it is generally not quick work.

There is complexity to considering for instance how to protect the white sage without impeding native people’s care and access to it; how to envision ways in which the plant can be grown and tended and harvested with care and sent out into the world in all its health and abundance and with proceeds from this distribution being reinvested into the native communities for whom it is sacred without violating sacred agreements between the people and their plant.

These are dilemmas built into our current worldview and structure.

But we are gardeners – we are smart, we can think and seed and grow our way beyond these dilemmas to better answers. Part of that rethinking is just as Rose and Deborah remind us – starting right where we as consumers and gardener. Think about what you buy and where it comes from, think about and research what you are growing and its whole story. From the cultural names and values associated with the plants we love, to the growers of them and the way in which they are grown – we too have a vote. And we vote with every dollar we spend or invest in others, with every seed we sow and share with others.





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