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MiniNature Reserve Program Volunteers, Oxnard Plaza Park Project (October 15, 2022) 

Through the MiniNature Reserve Program, MNR contacts small businesses in low income areas and asks for permission to beautify their storefront at no cost to them. Upon receiving approval from the business owner, we install California native plants in parkways and/or containers. We then assign one or two volunteers to maintain and care for the area while it becomes established. Each Mini Nature Reserve project follows the below guidelines:
 

  • The small business owner agrees to supply the water during establishment.

  • The small business owner does not pay for any plants or labor. 

  • Plants in parkways are never taller than 3 feet.

  • Each parkway gets a cute little sign attached to it.

  • All plants are native to the zipcode they are located in. 

 

If interested in volunteering for this program or offering your storefront, contact info@mininature.org. Make sure to include "MiniNature Reserve" in the subject line.

 

If you would like to support this initiative, please consider donating to the program or signing up to volunteer. It only takes $100 to install a MiniNature Reserve in front of one small business. All donations of any amount help!

Yepunash MiniNature Reserve

Oxnard Plaza planter

BEFORE

Oxnard Plaza planter

BEFORE

Volunteer planting Oxnard Plaza

DURING

Volunteer planting Oxnard Plaza

DURING

Landscaped Oxnard Plaza planter

AFTER

Landscaped Oxnard Plaza planter

AFTER

Landscaped Plaza Park planter

AFTER

Located next to Plaza Park, home of the famous Pagoda, the “Yepunash MiniNature Reserve” uses plants from the Coastal Sage Scrub and Grassland Plant Communities. It is named after the Ventureño Chumash word for Yarrow which literally means squirrel’s tail, due to the leaves’ uncanny resemblance. Yarrow has long been (and still is) used to help cuts heal faster. Seeing as we are trying to heal our community and the land we live on, we see it fitting to name our first MiniNature Reserve after this plant. 

 

Yarrow along with other plants in this Mini Nature Reserve such as the usha’ak (common name milkweed) and the tswana’atl ‘ishup (common name: buckwheat) are also host plants for various moths and butterflies including the beloved Monarch. See if you can spot any caterpillars munching on the leaves or flowers. These caterpillars provide sustenance to many of our local songbird species.

 

On October 15, a group of volunteers gathered with shovels and native plants donated from the Santa Monica Mountains Fund and Port Hueneme Nature Conservancy. Within hours we turned barren dirt into living coastal sage scrub and grassland habitat.

Onchoshi MiniNature Reserve

The “Onchoshi Nature Reserve” was started by the Port Hueneme Nature Conservancy and is sustained through their partnership with MiniNature Reserve. Plants include: california sycamore, california walnut, arroyo willow, narrowleaf milkweed, hollyleaf cherry, yerba mansa, and hummingbird sage.

'Onchoshi flower

'Onchoshi flower Preserved by the City of Port Hueneme and named after “‘Onchoshi” the word used by the local Ventureno Chumash for yerba mansa, a native plant that is medicinally and culturally important to them and also Mexican cultures. Visit this reserve planted with California natives behind the Ray D. Prueter Library in the City of Port Hueneme along Bubbling Springs Creek. Photo by Jacob Marquez

Bubbling Springs Creek

Bubbling Springs Creek is an important wetland, our only local creek is a “riparian woodland”, a habitat home to many unique species of plants like narrow-leaf milkweed, yerba mansa, arroyo willow, California sycamore, and California walnut. Many animals rely on this habitat as well. Birds especially are dependent on the creek as a source of water, food, and shelter, such as hummingbirds, black phoebes, egrets, herons, ducks, other waterfowl, and wood warblers.

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 1.44.54 PM

Hummingbird sage also growing at 'Onchoshi Preserve.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Monarch butterfly caterpillar on narrow-leaf milkweed, its favorite food. Photo by Jacob Marquez

Tswana 'atl'ishup MiniNature Reserve

This MiniNature Reserve is named after the Ventureño Chumash word for buckwheat. The garden facing C street has very rocky soil, whereas plants facing 6th street had clay soil. The challenge was selecting species that would grow well in these drastically different environments. The result was a vibrant and fragrant garden with year-round color. Pinkish purple sages, give way to golden yarrow, which are followed closely by fire red fuchsias. 

 

The plants from the garden were grown by volunteers, supplied by Matilija Nursery, and Yes Yes Nursery. They were then planted in two workshops. The second of which was led by indigenous activist Nicholas Hummingbird. During the workshop, people learned about native plants and their importance as well as how to maintain them, plant them successfully, and landscape with them.

'Usha'ak MiniNature Reserve

This MNR is named after the beloved host plant of the Monarch Butterfly. "Milkweed," as it is often referred to in English, is not just an important plant for the ecosystem, it is also important culturally. The dried stalks have been used and are still used by the Chumash to make cordage. Another use is evident in the Spanish name "algodoncillo" (little cotton). In fact, the fluffy silky fibers attached to the seeds make excellent fluff for teddy bears and pillows. 

 

This MNR was created through two separate events on September 23 and October 14 with the help of 7 and 4 volunteers respectively. Meant to mimic the dry grassland community where 'Usha'ak is often found, one can find 7 locally native grass species including California's official state grass: Purple Needlegrass. In between these grasses, wildflower seeds and bulbs were sown for spring color and pollinator habitat. Here's to looking forward to Spring 2024!

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