Written By: Randi Trantham
Hi everyone! My name is Randi and I was recently brought on to the Native Plant Materials Program as a Botany Intern. I am originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico where I attended New Mexico State University and received my BS in Biology with my main focus being on plant science. Meanwhile, I worked at a fisheries lab studying the White Sands pupfish. While on this project I was tasked with creating a protocol for measuring riparian and aquatic plant growth at our field sites. After graduating I went on to get my MS in Curriculum & Instruction for Secondary Science Education. After completing my Master’s my husband and I took jobs as science teachers in Buckeye, AZ. When we left Buckeye and moved to Patagonia I knew I wanted to use my science background again and began actively looking to work with Borderlands.
I am almost a third of the way through with my internship and so far I have gotten to do some pretty awesome stuff. I spend part of my time at the Seed Lab learning to clean and package different types of seed (some more persistent seeds of which I still find in my clothing). The majority of my time is spent at the BR Nursery learning different techniques and practices to grow native plants. Specifically about native plants that we are growing in the greenhouse and the conditions in which they thrive in the wild. In the last few weeks, I have been learning to collect some springtime seeds and how to take cuttings from various plants.
After leaving teaching my mental health was a little beaten up. Teaching is hard! In no rush to return to the field of education I began searching for a job that would use my research background. During my adult life I became concerned with the state of our environment and this became something that was very important to me personally. I love that besides trying to live differently at home in small ways, I also get to make small (but great) differences through my job. I have seen small glimpses of the projects and goals that Borderlands strives towards and I look forward to experiencing them myself. Besides the rewarding work that I have been able to be a part of, the people I work with are so wonderful. I can truly say that I love the people at the Native Plant Materials Program. Everyone I have had the pleasure of working with has been extremely kind and helpful. This really is a great place to work and turned out to be exactly what I needed. :)
Written by: Francesca Claverie
This last Saturday, June 8th, the Native Plant Materials Program hosted our first Native Plant Propagation and Nursery Management class at our nursery space in Patagonia, AZ. Our Native Plant Materials Program management has taught many workshops and classes before on seed collection, and propagation but we usually teach them through a grant, a conference, our summer school, and other consult services. This class was advertised for just over a month, and we are proud to report that we had a full class of 12 people attend the workshop and we couldn’t be happier about it’s success! All the participants were enthusiastic, keen, and asked some wonderful question and participated in fun nursery discussions from clonal propagation to bench-pallet quality.
The mission of our Native Plant Program is to promote biodiversity by providing access to restoration-quality native plant materials. Native plants have edible, medicinal, and aesthetic value and support basic ecosystem function. We seek to heal the land and ourselves by exploring a culture of place, centered on a rich relationship with our native flora. Part of this exploration centers on encouraging native plant interactions, and the creation of more regional programs that use local plant genetics for use in the wild and cultivated landscape. This class specifically covered a tour of our facilities, the importance of the National Seed Strategy, container plant production timelines, species palettes, seed propagation: scarification and stratification, clone propagation: hormone, cuttings types, disease and pest control, soil types, and greenhouse construction.
The next class our native plant program will offer is a 2-day wild seed collection and curation class in September. We are not yet accepting sign ups for this class, but will be advertising it towards the end of summer. Wish us luck on this first nursery class, and stay tuned for more native plant classes throughout the year! If you have questions or inquiries email email@example.com. Thanks!
Written By: Yari Cortez
We never have much to report on in admin, so here we are trying to make an exciting post, yeay! There are lots of changes in our BRN family and I am excited to share those with you. Our bookkeeper, Alex Hawkins who has been with us for a little over a year now is now promoted to Finance Manager! She has done an amazing job for our organization and continues to make things happen. We regret saying goodbye to our development and communications director, Kate Peake, as she did such amazing work for BRN, but look forward to welcoming our new development director, Sarah Taylor in June! We also regret saying goodbye to Alyssa Navarrette as she was an amazing asset to our development and admin team as well. Peg Furst our wonderful admin director will now be consulting for BRN starting in June as well! Our incredible executive director, Kurt Vaughn, just recently opened the doors to fatherhood and is out on paternity leave. Parenting is fun, Kurt!
BRN Admin is so talented that we provide services to our partnering organizations. In addition to Wildlife Corridors and Borderlands Restoration L3C, we now provide services to Deep Dirt Institute, and Cuenca Los Ojos. We now have 5 organizations that we do administrative services for and Borderlands Restoration Network is more of a network than ever before!
I’m the grants & contracts administrator and I’m also working on a project. I have always provided IT services in the 2 years I have worked here, but I am now coming up with an IT project that will benefit our organization and our partners. From structuring an easily accessible network to providing the tools and resources our programs need to succeed. I am super excited on the organization and structure our “IT department” will have now. I am currently taking some training hoping to make this a great experience for everyone!
I know its an admin spotlight, but we are so excited about our upcoming summer programs which will have us busy busy busy here in admin! Field school and BECY preparations are underway and all our programs are working together to have a successful 2019 summer!
Written By: Perin McNelis
The BRN Native Plant Material Program just wrapped up it’s second year participating in the annual Agave Heritage Festival in Tucson! The festival expanded this year to be “a city-wide, ten-day destination event that spotlights the southwest region through the lens of the agave plant.” BRN’s Native Plant Materials Program co-manager, Francesca Claverie, and our collaborator from the Collectivo Sonora Silvestre, Valeria Cañedo, presented along-side agave spirit producers and conservationists at Exo Bar on our Agaves for Bats Initiative through Bat Conservation International. The event was well attended and the the presentation was received with interest and enthusiasm for our bi-national conservation efforts in conjunction with celebration of agave based products and their cultural importance. Francesca presented again at the Agave Expo event at Hotel Congress, where the BRN Native Plant Materials team also had a table with educational materials, Agave palmeri plants and seedballs, and our new t-shirts, designed by friend of BRN, Mike Otero (available online here). The team met many agave spirit producers and conservationists working in Mexico, including biologist David Suro, who showed sincere interest in potential future collaborations with BRN. All in all, the festival was a great success! These kinds of outreach opportunities are imperative to educating our communities about the work we do in the borderlands, and to spreading awareness of the varied impacts human actions have on our landscapes so that we can garner support for restoration work and so that people can learn about what kind of actions they can take in their daily lives to support ecosystem health. We look forward to participating again next year!
Written By: Perin McNelis
The BRN Native Plant Materials Program is lucky to have consistent help from a robust group of enthusiastic volunteers. In this post, we would like to highlight one of our die-hard volunteers, John Hughes. John has come to our Tuesday volunteer mornings since 2014 to transplant, propagate, take cuttings, weed, or any other task that comes up. And he does so with such care and an eagerness to get his hands in the dirt! A retired middle school science teacher and avid birder, John spent many winters in Patagonia with his wife, Kathy, returning to Montana each year from April until Fall. Luckily for us, John and Kathy fell in love with Patagonia and decided to move here full time! They sold their house in Montana and are now in the process of building their home in Patagonia. John’s love and knowledge of the natural world, along with positive attitude, make him a wonderful part of the team.
John is also a dedicated volunteer for the Tucson Audubon Society at the Paton Center, the Friends of Sonoita Creek, and the Dirt Bags trail crew. BRN is so impressed with John’s commitment to local restoration efforts and we are grateful to have John in Patagonia, working hard with the community to restore and maintain the health of our beautiful home landscape. Thank you John for all you do!
By: Alyssa Navarrette-Cazares
Borderlands Restoration is growing nearly 2,000 agave in our nursery here in Patagonia, Arizona, for a collaboration with Bat Conservation International to spread thousands of these plants to support migratory pathways of nectar-feeding bats in southern Arizona. Nectar-feeding bats, specifically the Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris Mexicana) and lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris-Curasoae), migrate north from Mexico in the summer to roost and rear their young in caves of northern Sonora, Chihuaua, Arizona, and New Mexico.
We need your help to create an environment that can help salvage this ancient relationship between bats and agave. Very much like a bee and flower relationship, without bats, there are no agave and without agave, there are no bats. These bats made the endangered species list in the 1980's. When agaves are farmed for mescal, the plant is harvested before bloom; these same practices are used in wild-harvesting, and as demand for tequila, bacanora, and other mescals increases in the United States, significant pressure is placed on wild populations of agave - and so too, wild bat populations are under pressure.
Uniquely, we work with only seed grown plants for our restoration practices to promote the healthiest wild restored populations. Traditionally farmers use pups or clones of the agave; pups are more susceptible to disease and fungus that can easily spread to other pups and agave in a farm.
We are hoping this collaboration of conservationists and enthusiasts will bring wild agaves and bats back to healthy population numbers. With your donation of $15.00 for one agave or $50.00 for four agaves planted in the U.S., we can help bring back healthy patches of agave making it possible for bats to continue on their migratory voyage.
We are thrilled to be working with Naturalia a.c. & Cuenta Los Ojos to propagate plants in Mexico. The Colectivo Sonora Silvestre is another critical partner assisting in the propagation of these plants from seed. You can support these practices by donating $10.00 for one agave or $50.00 for six agaves planted in Mexico.
Borderlands Restoration Networks Nursery in Patagonia, AZ
Photo credit: usfws of the Lesser Long Nosed Bat feeding on a saguaro Blossom
Borderlands Restoration Network is a Proud Participant in Patagonia’s EARTHfest 2019
‘Youth are the Future’ EARTHfest 2019 went off without a hitch this past Saturday. Collaboratively organized by the Patagonia Museum and Borderlands Restoration Network, we enjoyed a sunny day accompanied by a variety of engaging activities. Four different musical groups joined us at the gazebo for boogey-worthy music. Educational talks were given at Cady Hall and Town Hall that spanned topics from tree ring studies to water in the Patagonia Mountains. Booths shared information on Sonoita Creek, electricity and the Arizona Trail. Many lucky folks walked away with science and nature themed books provided by the Patagonia Library and native plants from Borderlands Restoration. Kids were spotted throughout the day with painted faces, flying colorful kites, doing kids yoga and walking along the new Patagonia Story Walk, featuring The Three Little Javelinas, put on by the library. All the while, attendees were fueled by delicious burritos and BBQ.
We had a record number of attendees this year as over 200 people gathered in Patagonia to celebrate Mother Earth, Arizona Trails Day, and Arbor Day, and we hope that this number will only continue to climb in the upcoming years. The EARTHfest committee is always open to new ideas, new booths, and new ways to show appreciation for this planet we call home. As well, we invite any interested community members to join the planning committee.
EARTHfest 2019 was a joyful celebration of Mother Earth, made even better by the many community members who came out to share information, experiences, and resources with our local youth helping to inspire the next generation of land stewards.
BRN's Native Plant Material Program was very happy to host Carla Vargas-Frank of Yerba Nomadica for an herbalism workshop on April 6th! The workshop focused on Spring in the Sky Islands, and how plant medicine can be used to support our bodies' natural cleansing systems during this time when some themes from the seasonal transition we see in nature are mirrored in our bodies. Participants tasted different plant medicines for activating the lymphatic system, digestion, and circulation to encourage movement, clearing out and breaking up of the stagnation of Winter. We learned about some plant genera that are useful medicines during allergy season and that we have species native to the Sky Islands, including Ceanothus, Solidago, Ambrosia, Achillea, and Anemopsis. Finally, we learned about the importance of tasting bitter flavors in stimulating some of the systems that help us transition our bodies into the warmer months. Then we made some bitters of our own! BRN is really excited about this new collaboration, and the Native Plant Materials Program is looking forward to working with her to offer more herbalism workshops during the annual Field School and in September. Keep your eyes peeled for details of future offerings with BRN and Yerba Nomadica!
Borderlands Restoration Network is grateful for the generous and early backing of the Biophilia Foundation. Their ongoing support allows BRN to run our innovative programs such as the field school, as well as our community engagement programs like our monthly nature walks and our Arts & Ecology Initiative. Through the support of Biophilia, staff at BRN has been able to increase our engagement with different parts of the community to explore our unique Sky Island ecology and our various roles in our ecosystem.
Due to the early support of the Biophilia Foundation, we are preparing for our third BRN Field School with over 30 experts presenting about their ecological and cultural work in the restoration economy in the Arizona-Borderlands. Our Arts & Ecology Initiative has grown from a few classes within our Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute and the Field School into its own curriculum with classes developed to engage local youth in learning about their role in the local ecology.
BRN is proud to have the support of the Biophilia Foundation as we work with our partners to expand a vibrant restoration economy in the Arizona – Sonora borderlands through ecological and cultural place-based learning and leadership with on the ground restoration work on habitats and watersheds.
To learn more about the Biophilia Foundation, their current projects, and more about their mission to advance biodiversity conservation, visit www.biophiliafoundation.org.
What does sustainable mean? If you look it up in the Dictionary it means maintaining a certain rate and conserving or defending an ecological balance without depletion of natural resources. When I think about sustainability I think of educators, land keepers, and a caring heart. We can create sustainable environments in our own homes, towns, cities, and schools. Innovative and courageous minds alike are changing our communities, the University of Arizona is a leading pioneer and has a massive sustainable campus. They looked to the students to create these sustainable environments and the campus is flourishing. Tucson is a place where the temperatures can easily reach 120* in the summer you might think that that production may slow down, however plants are still thriving and pumping out food on the University of Arizona’s rooftop gardens.
The University has installed a rooftop garden that sits on top of the Student Union it was designed by students for students. The garden provides fresh produce to many people on campus who may not be able to afford fresh food. Around the campus, many buildings have rock structures, water harvesters, and native plants. Compost Cats are trying to create a zero-waste environment within the University. They service the greater Tucson area at a reasonable price. These types of sustainability create a relationship with the community by getting people involved and educated.
From the Office of the Sustainability at the University of Arizona “A tier 1 research and land-grant institution, the University of Arizona addresses global challenges through research and teaching and translates research into action. UA is already using its campus as a living laboratory to pilot and implement innovative and bold solutions that advance sustainability. The Office of Sustainability furthers this progress by elevating and institutionalizing best practices in sustainable operations and development. We work across the university to build relationships and networks that foster a culture of sustainability, focusing on place-based approaches. We actively provide greater student, faculty, staff and community engagement opportunities, offering innovative and unparalleled experiences in sustainability. We collaborate closely with the Institute of the Environment and similar groups and organizations on and off campus, as well as with local government agencies, schools, community non-profits, and the private sector. We work toward ensuring that the University of Arizona continues to be a strong partner and leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship.”
The City of Tucson has also taken on major projects working toward a healthier and more sustainable economy, environment, and community. They are implementing a plan to increase tree canopy’s and create urban food forests within its neighborhoods, with temperatures increasing the need for sustainability this is industry has become very innovative. The city is expanding its solar energy and studying how the rising temperatures are affecting the economy, environment, community, and habitat. Tucson is gaining worldwide attention for its beautiful weather and one of a kind scenery, with nearly 1 million people in Tucson a big jump from 487,000 in 2000 so getting creative and listening to the community to hear what it needs is playing a big part in its success of this development and planning. The City of Tucson is implementing the following projects: climate resilience, sustainable food systems, water sustainability, urban landscape development, green infrastructure, development, and maintenance, and habitat conservation planning. The city offers a water harvesting class that looks to education to help conserve water usage. Tucson Electric Power also sells native trees at a low price and teaches the community how to plant trees so when they mature they are helping to conserve energy in homes. All of these factors play a huge role in the sustainable growth of Arizona.