Plants, Parrots, and Veterans

Dec 02, 2010 by Lisa Newton

When Holiday Shopping, many people love to purchase plants, and other items for their houses and apartments.

If this sounds like something that’s of interest to you, I found the perfect place for you to go:

The Grow Native Nursery in Westwood

Located behind the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System building, the GNN works with the VA’s Compensated Work Therapy Program (CWT), offering a concentrated focus on native California plants as well as sustainable landscaping and gardening practices.

The veterans, who learn propagation, care and maintenance of all of the California native plants, when they complete the GNN program, learn the skills necessary to have a competitive edge in the job market, as they compete for green and environmental jobs.

First established in 1989, the 15-acre garden and nursery is open Wednesday-Sunday, 9:00am until 5:00pm. Grow Native Nursery is the second location of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, whose mission is to promote “botany, conservation and horticulture to inspire, inform and educate the public and the scientific community about California’s native flora.”

Just off Sepulveda Boulevard, the future looks bright for the Grow Native Nursery, as they are planning to to include a number of demonstration garden plots for the general public, designed to illustrate the ways in which native plants can be used to achieve sustainable and drought-tolerant home gardens and landscapes.

This program provides veterans the chance to learn horticultural techniques in real-world, practical ways.

Behind the Nursery is the Serenity Park Sanctuary, whose mission is spelled out in the name, Parrot CARE:

  • Conservation of parrots in their wild, natural habitats along with the preservation of those habitats
  • Adoptions of parrots needing re-homing or placed into permanent sanctuaries.
  • Rescue of parrots who can no longer live in their current situation
  • Education of the public, animal lovers, and parrot caregivers on the appropriate care of parrots and the need to adopt rather than breed

Also working with the VA’s work therapy program, the use of parrots helps with the veterans’ rehabilitation, as many of these vets, due to physical and psychological impairments, need a serene place to work in preparation for returning to full time employment. The parrots are also the winners because they have a loving environment in which to live.

As I was walking around, taking a few photos, I suddenly heard someone saying “Hello. Hello.” Much to my surprise, it was one of the parrots.

Therefore, as the holidays approach, consider purchasing a plant or two from the VA, and don’t forget to say hello to the parrots.

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