Several rows of green California native plants and seedlings in a small nursery
Friends of Sausal Creek Native Plant Nursery has over 100 species of California native plants and seedlings. Credit: Courtesy of Friends of Sausal Creek

Friends of Sausal Creek is holding its 18th annual native plant sale at the group’s nursery this coming Sunday. The nursery is primarily focused on cultivating California native plants that are used for restoration efforts in parks, but once a year the group opens its doors to the public. Sale proceeds will go directly to restoration efforts in the Sausal Creek watershed and the organization’s educational programs like its rainbow trout tour

“The plant sale happens once a year and is just a great opportunity for us to get folks who already know a lot about plants, and folks who are brand new to it, and get them exposed to what grows in their watershed and what would grow well in their yard,” said Kate Berlin, communications and operations manager for Friends of Sausal Creek. “And the rest of the year, these are plants that are all going back out into our city parks.”

The sale marks a happy milestone for the nursery. In January, unknown vandals broke into the nursery and destroyed over 600 native plant seedlings, scattered 4,000 plants, and caused around $8,000 in damages. The small, mostly volunteer-run organization was heartbroken by the crime. 

Overturned wooden tables and scattered plants at a nursery
Overturned tables and other destruction caused by vandals at the Friends of Sausal Creek plant nursery in Joaquin Miller Park. Credit: Courtesy of Friends of Sausal Creek Credit: Courtesy of Friends of Sausal Creek

It took hundreds of hours and over 40 volunteers to get the nursery back to where it is today. Even with these efforts, Berlin said their plant catalog is lacking around 100 seedlings that they would have typically have on hand this time of year. 

The sale will provide an opportunity for attendees to peruse and purchase over 100 native plant species and several native plant experts will be on-site to help folks choose the right plants for their home.

The event will also feature live music by local musician Katsy Pline and a demonstration by environmental artist Kristi Holohan. Other activities include face painting, nature crafts led by local students, and consultations about the city’s Adopt-A-Spot program. The East Bay Municipal Utility District will also have representatives on hand to discuss rebate programs for those interested in converting their lawns to native plant gardens that can save water.

“While the nursery is a pretty joyful and peaceful place to be all the time, I feel like it really comes alive during this sale, like last year we had 400 people throughout the day,” said Berlin. “It is just such immense energy in that space at this time that it feels worth celebrating that we made it through that tough time and kind of celebrating our resilience as an organization and as a community.”

The sale will be held at the nursery in Joaquin Miller Park on Sun. Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Correction: We incorrectly stated that the nursery was missing around 100 species of plants due to the vandalism incident. In fact, the vandalism incident set back the nursery’s plant inventory by 100 seedlings.

Callie Rhoades covers the environment for The Oaklandside as a 2023-2025 California Local News Fellow. She previously worked as a reporter for Oakland North at Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program. She has also worked as an intern for Estuary News Group, as an assistant producer for the Climate Break podcast, and as an editorial intern for SKI Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Sierra Magazine, Earth Island Journal, and KneeDeep Times, among others. She graduated from The University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2023.