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Arizona Columbine Garden Club

Sonoran Seed Summit

In April of 2022 Arizona Columbine Garden Club along with its Sonoran Seed Collaborative Partners brought together land managers, botanists, conservation organizations, and community stake holders for a conservation strategy summit. The goal of the one-day event was to bring together people with the expertise to work together towards the creation of a network focused on the development of native plant materials and to strategize best practices for restoration projects in the Sonoran Desert.

Organized and hosted by Arizona Columbine, the event was held at Desert Botanical Garden at the Binns Wildflower Pavilion. Ninety people attended from across Arizona and throughout the Southwest, representing 43 different organizations, including people from five Native American Tribal communities; one man commenting his Native American organization had never participated in an event like this before. (There are 22 Native American Tribes and 20 reservations encompassing 19,000,000 acres of land in Arizona.) People representing minority community gardens were in attendance hoping to find partnerships, support and possible funding for their inner-city projects.

Two rounds of panel discussions were divided by those involved in native seed production and those who used the seed on their lands or in the case of Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), along freeways and highways. Questions to the panel included the challenges of producing and procuring native seeds, collecting wild seed versus cultivation; availability of quality native seed; species diversity; climate change challenges; use of seedballs in restoration and the necessity of a regional seed hub. A robust Q & A followed each panel discussion. Following lunch, the attendees divided into five break-out groups for more intimate discussion and suggestions. The day ended with 60 people touring Tovrea Castle and the Columbine native plant plot. 

Arizona Columbine Event Chair welcoming panelists and attendees

Break-out groups met to brainstorm, discuss, and to offer solutions

Summit Panelists: Melanie Gisler, Southwest Director for Institute for Applied Ecology; Jen Jenkin, Executive Director Desert Seed Resource Center; Carianne Funicelli, emcee and CEO Strategic Habitat Enhancements; Kara Barron, Science and Outreach Manager Gila Watershed Partnership; Dr. Kristin Gade, conservation ecologist Arizona Department of Transportation; Dr. Elise Gornish, Ecological Restoration University of Arizona; Juanita Armstrong-Ullberg, Natural Resource Specialist Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department; Claire Miller, Manager Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve; Molly McCormick, ecologist and coordinator for the US Geological Survey's Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program; Dr. Gita Bodner conservation ecologist The Nature Conservancy; Gary Maskarinec, Wildlands Restoration and Nighthawk Nursery; Mark Haberstich, Aravaipa Canyon ecologist Nature Conservancy; Danielle Carlock, Maricopa Seed Library.

Arizona Columbine Garden Club

Founded in 1946. Member of Garden Club of America since 1989.

The purpose of the Arizona Columbine Garden Club is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening, aid in the protection of native trees, plants and shrubs, and restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment through programs and action in the fields of conservation, civic improvement and education.

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