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Sustainability Fair Blooms Amid Gardeners’ Delight

By Eric Licas
The Review

Local gardeners traded seedlings while celebrating Southern California’s immense biodiversity at the South Pasadena Sustainability Fair, Plant Exchange and Garden Tour on April 6.
Residents flocked to the colorful weekend event, held by the Public Works Department’s Sustainability Division in partnership with South Pasadena Beautiful and Friends of the Nature Park.
Nature lovers of all ages got a chance to learn more about the Arroyo Seco area’s ecology on guided tours of the park and picked up tips on environmentally conscious gardening at a variety of booths.
“I feel like people are really learning about what’s sustainable in their garden and what will be best for pollinators,” South Pasadena Beautiful board member Wendy Kerfoot told the Review in between questions from attendees.
One of the event’s most popular attractions was the plant exchange, which started off with an assortment of free plants that were donated by Bartlett Tree Experts and the Bellefontaine Nursery. These included many species that are native to Southern California, making them fairly easy to grow, even for beginners.
Many who attended the event also brought samples from their own gardens, adding to the diversity of flora offered at the exchange. South Pasadena resident Richard Chang brought small pots of brunfelsia pauciflora, also known as “yesterday, tomorrow and today” plants, with budding white and purple flowers. He brought home a box full of decorative varieties and even a few that are edible.
“I got all kinds of good stuff,” Chang said. “Some of them I’ve never planted before, so I’ll try it and see how it works.”
Elaine Tong, who also visited the Sustainability Fair in 2023, said there appeared to be a much larger crowd this year. On Saturday, she brought seedlings of shiso, a leafy herb in the mint family that’s often paired with sashimi. She left the event with a few cherry tomato plants.
“Everyone’s exchanging plants and keeping things growing, without spending a bunch of money on cuttings,” she said.
Some of those who came out to the fair were children and teens just beginning to discover a love of plants. Kai Bazelon, 11, said he started gardening about a year ago.
“I’ve been interested in mainly the tropical kind,” the budding horticulturist said. “It’s just kind of based on how it’s shaped and the color of it. I’m used to growing ones that actually eat bugs and stuff like that.”
Other fairgoers said they were drawn to the event in hopes of connecting with like-minded, environmentally conscious people. Mariah Cochran described herself as an avid gardener who recently moved to Southern California from the Bay Area.
“I’ve been looking for a community like this, and so it’s my first experience coming out to something like this,” she said. “This is really cool.”
She went home from the fair with African daisies, sage, eggplant and a sense of connectedness with her environment and the people with whom she shares it.

South Pasadena Beautiful board member Wendy Kerfoot hands a seedling to a young gardener at the South Pasadena Sustainability Fair at the Nature Park on April 6
Elaine Tong takes a whiff of mint being handed out for free at the South Pasadena Sustainability Fair on April 6
Shou Zhang of South Pasadena Beautiful shares gardening tips with attendees of the South Pasadena Sustainability Fair at the Nature Park

First published in the April 11 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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