Commonwealth Nursery

Commonwealth Nursery is a public private partnership to grow climate and community resilience in Los Angeles.

Commonwealth is a catalyst to grow trees from locally-sourced seed, train the next generation of urban forest stewards, and grow the green jobs of the future.

Located on a historic 11 acre site in Griffith Park, the nursery serves as an urban ecological laboratory and training grounds to support LA’s tree canopy equity goals, creating a more livable and resilient city for all Angelenos.

History & Background

Established in 1928, the Commonwealth Nursery was once an 11-acre municipal nursery for the City of Los Angeles producing an estimated 1 million plants and trees for the region. In addition to plant production, the nursery also supported a robust apprenticeship program with the Department of Recreation and Parks. Running for nearly 50 years, the nursery continued to offer horticulture education and operated as a training ground for Recreation and Parks grounds maintenance staff, as well as providing a site for schoolchildren to learn about horticulture and native flora. However, the operation as a whole came to an unfortunate halt in the late 70s, and the nursery fell largely into disrepair, abandoned for nearly 30 years. With the support of the Department of Recreation and Parks, LA Department of Water and Power, the LA Parks Foundation, and the LA Conservation Corps, and Grown in LA, City Plants began utilizing a portion of the Commonwealth Nursery terraces in 2020 to grow trees for LA’s future.

The Problem & Need

  • LA currently suffers from a lack of access to quality climate ready tree stock, including many Southern California native and endemic species

  • There’s a lack of training opportunities & workforce development programs for urban forestry & native seed stewardship – The need for horticultural education and workforce development training around tree propagation, tree maintenance, and tree care is vital to the health of LA’s existing canopy and the efficacy of new city tree planting initiatives.

  • As a region, we currently purchase 20,000 trees each year from commercial nurseries, many of which are far away, and many of which offer limited stock

  • LA will need thousands of climate appropriate, low water, and heat resilient plants and trees in the coming years
  • LA currently suffers from an inequitably distributed canopy – wealthier LA neighborhoods enjoy vastly larger urban forests and their benefits, from shade cover and urban heat island reduction to improved air quality and mental health outcomes—an average differential of 37% canopy cover in affluent areas to 15% in formerly redlined neighborhoods.

The Opportunity

By reinvesting and reviving this historic site, Los Angeles could be a national leader in urban forestry and urban ecology.

Commonwealth Coalition Partners

The Commonwealth Nursery project brings together a team of leading organizations and experts in the fields of urban ecology, urban forestry, climate resilience, and workforce development. City Plants is grateful to work alongside our Commonwealth Coalition partners.

Commonwealth Nursery Funders & Supporters