In 2021, Grow Monrovia established a community tree nursery. It is located on land generously shared by the Maryknoll Sisters.
Grow Monrovia is working to improve the urban forest in Monrovia. As of 2021, Monrovia has less tree cover than the city of Los Angeles. Shade trees contribute to a walkable city by providing shelter from sun and rain.
Trees also help to prevent a problem called the “heat island effect” where the sun heats sidewalks, buildings and other hard surfaces which store the heat and radiate it back, intensifying the heat of the day and preventing the natural cooling off during the evenings.
The city of Monrovia has a habit of planting fast-growing, short-lived, compact trees, like crepe myrtles and carrotwood. In fact, Monrovia’s tree canopy is made up mostly of crepe myrtles. In our city, we have over double the number of crepe myrtles as any other species of tree. These trees are inexpensive to purchase, plant, and maintain but provide inadequate shade cover to make up for the concrete and asphalt that fills our city. Grow Monrovia is working to promote more large, shade trees, many of which are native to the area.
Tree diversity is also important for the long-term health of our urban forest. A rule of thumb that is helpful for planning tree diversity is that no one species should make up more than 10% of all trees in a community. Beyond that number increases the chances of pest and diseases spreading amongst the trees. If a tree die-off occurs as the result of disease, without sufficient diversity, the urban forest could be decimated.
Some nearby cities, such as Glendora, have banned the further planting of crepe myrtles in order to promote plant diversity and to start growing more ecologically beneficial trees.
At the community tree nursery at Mary Knoll, we are propagating Valley Oaks, Black Oaks, California Sycamores, Engelmann Oaks, Cork Oaks, Black Walnut, and California native ash trees. We then distribute these trees throughout the community through giveaways and street tree plantings.
The Community Tree Nursery at Mary Knoll isn’t just about trees. It is also a community space. The site is also used to hold community talks and workshops. It also houses 10 garden beds that demonstrate different garden bed construction techniques. Some are assembled with cinder blocks and wood, others with recycled materials. These garden beds are used to grow food plants like kale, lettuce, strawberries, cabbage, beans, radishes, beets, various herbs, and more.
We plan to hold many workshops at the Mary Knoll location in the future. Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social media to find out more.