How an ecoregion spurred a powerful partnership.
The transitional zone of the Columbia River Gorge is where the wet of the west turns into the arid east, where temperate rain forests of Douglas-fir flow into dry ponderosa pine and oak habitat, where unrivaled and irreplaceable native plant communities unfold with botanic beauty and ecological wonder. The East Cascades is also home to Humble Roots Farm & Nursery, a business inspired by the region’s biodiversity.
“I saw changes happening to local landscapes,” said nursery co-owner Kristin Currin. “Instead of talking about what should be done, I just decided to do it.”
In 2003, Currin purchased land that seemed to suit her future nurseries needs, but discovered a low-producing well couldn’t properly irrigate her stock. She sold vegetables to restaurants to offset personal food and living costs as she diligently cared for her growing garden. Eventually, she moved her inventory to a rental property nearby.
Currin and her partner, Andrew Merritt, worked hard to remove invasive grasses and improve the oak woodlands on the new plot and watched as their native plants thrived. In 2005 the nursery was finally incorporated.
Meanwhile, the Land Trust was working to conserve meadows and riverbanks just miles away. Today, Humble Roots and the Land Trust have paired up to replant the region’s disturbed natural places.
“There are no large wholesale nurseries that cultivate the plant species truly local to the region,” said Land Trust Natural Area Manager Kate Conley. “Without local stock, our plant survival rates would be lower.”
Over the past two years, the nursery has supplied more than 1,200 plants to revegetate the river’s edge at the former Hood River Powerdale Dam and pipeline sites.
The nursery is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish new populations of a rare plant called northern wormwood (Artemisia campestris var. wormskioldii), which could potentially thrive on our Pierce Island property. Historically, the plant was recorded at several sites along the Columbia River, but dam construction and subsequent flooding extirpated the population.
We never know who is just over the hill or across the river working for the same undertaking. It’s a firm belief of ours, that not only can we be so moved by a landscape that we build our entire lives around it, but that in turn, the land can be moved by the people working to save it.
Learn more about Humble Roots Farm & Nursery at humblerootsnursery.com
Photos courtesy Humble Roots Farm & Nursery