The University of Florida (UF) Native Plant Nursery is a new operation on campus dedicated to teaching, extension, and research concerning native plant materials. In doing so we actively produce native plant materials year-round for restoration and ecological enhancement work on UF owned lands. This includes restoration of UF conservation areas and urban forests, as well as enhancement of green spaces with pollinator gardens, meadows, and more. In doing so we provide space and opportunities for UF students to learn about native flora, restoration work, native landscaping, nursery operations, and gain hands on experience in growing plant materials. In this space we also serve as a center for interdisciplinary work and research concerning native plant materials. This includes work with the propagation of rare and or endangered native plants for research and conservation via relationships with the Florida Museum for Natural History, Department of Plant Industry, Austin Cary Forest, and the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory (NATL).
The UF Native Plant Nursery began in 2020 from an initiative started by the Natural Areas Teaching Laboratory (NATL) to produce native plant materials for restoration projects on campus. The production of plant materials was deemed necessary primarily due to high costs associated with purchasing plant materials via private nurseries, as well as issues related to the supply and availability of desirable local species. Success in production of native materials led to widespread interest from UF students and faculty. In 2021 funding was provided by the UF/IFAS office of the dean for research to help foster native plant research and educational opportunities for UF faculty and students. Around this time additional outdoor growing space with ample infrastructure was provided at the Forest Resources & Conservation plant growth complex, located in a central location on main campus off Mowry Road. To date the UF Native Plant Nursery has produced more than 22,000 individual plants for its restoration and enhancement projects.
Faculty interested in collaboration on potential projects or growth of certain species for specific research projects are encouraged to reach out to Gage LaPierre via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The current manager of the UF Native Plant Nursery is Gage LaPierre a PhD candidate in FFGS.
The UF Native Plant Nursery contributes heavily to ecological enhancement and restoration projects on campus. These projects include:
- Groundcover restoration of the upland pine community at the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory (NATL).
- Installation of meadows on campus sites such as the Florida Museum of Natural History as well as at NATL.
- Construction of UF's first carnivorous bog garden at Steinmetz Hall.
The UF Native Plant Nursery supports native plant extension related events. It currently offers difficult to find native plants and educational material to the community during an annual sale event. It also provides native plants to the Florida Museum of Natural History plant sale event as well. In 2023 the operation hosted the first ever Groundcover Restoration and Enhancement Workshop (GRE). This workshop was attended by more than 110 working professionals and included a wide range of talks by UF research faculty and other research institutions.
The UF Nursery has hosted several classes for tours including Plant Science, Native Plant Landscaping, Restoration Ecology, and others.
The UF Native Plant Nursery supports paid undergraduate research internships as well as nursery management work experience. Contact Gage LaPierre via email email@example.com for inquires.
The UF Native Plant Nursery has numerous volunteer opportunities available for students seeking experience in producing native plant materials. Volunteering at the nursery would entail these activities: creating soil substrate, filling pots, seeding pots, working with propagating material, and helping in planting or extension events. Volunteers would be appreciated if they were available to help for 1-4 hours a week (schedule is flexible). For more information feel free to reach out to Gage LaPierre via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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