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Supporting donors and partners representing the County of San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, and private support, help cut the ribbon at the unveiling of the San Elijo Nursery on Wednesday. Courtesy photo
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Nursery to ‘build community’ at San Elijo Lagoon

REGION — Doug Gibson likened the host of volunteers, students and visitors at the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy to a community, one that grows stronger as the lagoon grows healthier.

Wednesday’s grand opening of a native plant nursery at the lagoon will play a big role in strengthening both, said Gibson, the conservancy’s executive director and principal scientist.

“When we have activities that allow the members of our community to get their hands dirty, we see a stronger community,” Gibson said. “The nursery will go a long way in doing that.”

Gibson said that he and faithful volunteers had noticed during lagoon restoration events that they were ordering plants from nurseries across the county, and thought that they could be growing many of those plants on site.

“We thought, ‘we should be doing this ourselves,’” Gibson said. “Both for the educational component and for our volunteer community.”

Gibson estimates that up to 3,000 plants will grow at a time in the 1,000-square-foot nursery, and those plants, once mature, will be used during the restoration events. This includes sensitive plants that they would like to see incorporated into the lagoon that have been wiped out as a result of drought or other forces.

“We can now grow them and put them back out into the habitat, and make the area more functional for those species who use it, us being one of those species,” Gibson said, referring to humans.

Wednesday’s ribbon cutting gives the conservancy a chance to honor and thank the donors who made the nursery possible, through financial and in-kind contributions as well as hours constructing the structure.

Those donors include the John & Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation, Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, Oakhurst Builders, and Ned & DeeDee Reynolds. County-designated Neighborhood Reinvestment funds, directed by Supervisor Dave Roberts, have allowed for the purchase of essential equipment.

“For us, the nursery is a small foot in the door, but it is a great win for us,” Gibson said. “We’ve been able to get it off the ground relatively quickly because we’ve had great people come forward to give us what we needed to do this.”