Posts Tagged ‘mediterranean’

Climate change is perhaps the single biggest issue facing the health of our communities. Severe weather conditions threaten the crops on which we depend for food and a thriving economy as well as the safety of our neighborhoods and health of our landscape. In San Luis Obispo, we have historically seen weather patterns consistent with a Mediterranean climate where we experience long, hot and dry summers with rainy, wet winters. Many of the native plants are drought-tolerant, and the cold waters and upwelling of nutrients off of our coasts provide us with a stunning amount of marine biodiversity. With greenhouse gasses on the rise, what can we expect for the seasons to come?

The Coast: According to a report released by the California Academy of Sciences in June of this year, Central California’s waters are already showing the effects of a warming planet. Surface waters have increased in temperature, sea levels are higher, winds are stronger, upwellings are more intense, there is increased ocean acidification, and shoreline erosion has accelerated. As a result, ecosystems have been thrown out of balance and organisms are struggling to adapt.

The study states that the most severe ecological disruption will come from the changes associated with upwellings, ocean temperature, sea level rise, and acidification. Upwelling appears to be increasing because of more rapid heating of land in contrast to the ocean which creates pressure gradients and strong winds, driving the process. Researchers worry that stronger currents may carry the larvae of fish and other animals out to sea, disconnecting whole populations and threatening the food web. Warm surface temperatures have heated bays and shallow waters, making for steep temperature gradients from east to west. Warmer surface waters also inhibit the vertical mixing of water and nutrients which can result in plankton blooms and areas of low dissolved oxygen, killing certain species that need oxygen rich habitats to survive and aiding in the takeover of invasive organisms.

Sea level rise has accounted for a large amount of coastline erosion as well as the change in tidepool ecosystems. Rising waters affect the ability of marine mammals to reproduce and rest, changing the living patterns for these top predators. As CO2 continues to be absorbed by the sea, waters have become more acidic, creating conditions where shelled animals cannot form their exoskeletons or even dissolve.

In regards to broader weather patterns, the El Nino oscillation cycles are expected to continue with higher temperatures than in the past. La Nina years will be wetter and warmer than average with heavy downpours becoming more frequent.  Days of high fire risk are going to become more common with an extended fire season brought on by hotter temperatures and increased evaporation. Flooding and erosion from sea level rise and lack of vegetative cover will deposit more soil and sediment into freshwater systems, eventually affecting marine ecosystems as they flow out to sea.  Saltwater is also expected to flow into freshwater systems as the oceans rise.




Native plants are fantastic choices for landscaping your yard.  Perfectly adapted for the climate, they are hearty, water and nutrient efficient, and provide habitats for local fauna.  In San Luis Obispo, residents are fortunate to wander amongst some of the most beautiful and unusual plants in the country.  Drought tolerant, aromatic, and attractive, our sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodland, dune, and riparian ecosystems produce incredible specimens that would be the pride of any garden.  Sadly, due to over-development, many of these habitats have been destroyed and are at risk of disappearing.  Fortunately, there are a number of organizations and individuals committed to preserving and propagating the flora of SLO.  Many of them have native plants sales and educational seminars throughout the year.  Here are a few opportunities to take home new additions for your home!

Nipomo Native Gardens- Located between Camino Caballo and Osage streets in the community of Nipomo, the Nipomo Native Garden will be holding a plant sale this Sunday, October 7.  Plant-lovers and green thumbs will have the opportunity to get their hands on indigenous species and cultivated hybrids, and to talk to experts. In addition to the sale, the Garden also holds workdays every first Saturday of the month from 9am to noon.  For more information, contact Greg Doudna at (805) 929-6649.

CNPS- The California Native Plant Society will be holding its plant sale on Saturday, November 3 from 7am-2pm.  CNPS is a state-wide nonprofit that focuses on preserving California native plants.  Members enjoy talks, field trips, and regular informative newsletters celebrating the incredible botanical diversity of the Golden State.  They are currently looking for volunteers to host the fundraiser, and interested participants should sign up for a shift via their website.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden- The 2012 plant sale held by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden begins this September 29 and will run throughout the month of October form 10am-4pm.  Just in time for the planting season, start off autumn with a new native or Mediterranean plant.  Choose from over 5,000 plants and 400 varieties.  The Garden stands as the largest retail offering of natives on the Central Coast, and is worth the drive to view the site and support the Santa Barbara Botanic fund by making a purchase of a new potted pal.

This Saturday, April 28, make your way to Four Elements Farm’s 2nd Annual Spring Plant Sale and Farm Festival.  The place will be hopping all day from 11am-10pm with a number of activities including farm tours, watershed ecology walks, kids’ games, yoga, and by-donation workshops.  With food, thousands of organic plants for sale, and music from The Earthtones, Burning Bush, and BoomBala, you will be sure to have a wonderful time and feel good from the tips of your leaves all the way down to the bottom of your roots!

You will find Four Elements Organics off of Hwy 41 between Atascadero and Morro Bay.  Nestled in the mountains of San Luis Obispo county and blessed with a Mediterranean climate, the farm strives to harmonize with nature and work with the land to produce high quality organics.  Extensive cover cropping, frequent rotations to promote healthy soil, home-made biodiesel, and wise water management all combine to create ideal conditions for their wide selection of fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs.  Four Elements Organics supplies a number of local nurseries, CSA’s, farmers markets, restaurants, and body care companies along the Central Coast.

Enjoy a day on the farm and celebrate your love for organic agriculture!