Nominee Name: Florence Nishida
Organization/Business: LA Green Grounds
Website: LA Green Grounds
Nominator: Lauren Deutsch
“Florence Nishida contacted the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County with a plan to build a teaching garden for the ‘Grow L.A. Victory Garden Initiative.’ This effort literally grew into the centerpiece NHM’s Erika J. Glazer Family Edible Garden. Since then, she has mentored hundreds of community members of all ages and backgrounds. Florence has turned lawns and even parkways into urban organic farms, explored healthy foodways and encouraged getting to know your neighbors by digging, planting and watering together.”
— Lauren W. Deutsch, Nominator
About Florence Nishida
Florence Nishida, botanist, mycologist and life-long gardener, joined the Master Gardeners of Los Angeles County in 2008 after retiring from careers in teaching (English- LAUSD), editorial research at Time Inc., and mycological research at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM). In 2010, she was one of the initial master gardeners tasked with creating gardening classes in Los Angeles. Initially stymied by the lack of suitable sites, she proposed to NHM to create a teaching garden, which became a prototype for the Erika J. Glazer Edible Garden. Florence had moved into the South Los Angeles neighborhood of the Natural History Museum as a child, following her family’s release from a WWII Japanese American internment camp. Aware of South Los Angeles being a “food desert” with high rates of diet-related disease, exacerbated by the lack of healthy food resources, her principal goal as a gardening teacher became to provide opportunities for residents to access better diet, health and food security. She recruited her museum students and community members to found LA Green Grounds (LAGG) in 2010, with the mission of teaching residents to grow food (and share with neighbors) in their own front yards. The LAGG Teaching Garden, created (2016) in the west Jefferson Boulevard area, brings together neighbors and volunteers from greater Los Angeles for weekly informal garden classes, and to promote access to fresh food, gardening knowledge and healthy eating habits to the community.
More on Florence Nishida
- Watch Florence Nishida give a talk on growing veggies in Los Angeles on this Oct. 2020 presentation from the Southern California Horticultural Society titled “October 2020 - Florence Nishida "Growing Asian Vegetables in Los Angeles.” Watch the YouTube video by clicking on this link.
- Read a Dec. 2020 L.A. Times profile on Florence Nishida titled "A master gardener transforms a South L.A. food desert into an edible oasis" on the L.A. times website.
- In the Nov. 2020 webinar session from Mercury News below, titled “Newsroom @Home -- Gardening Episode 1: Growing Herbs,” you can join Florence Nishida and other horticulturalists, including Rose Loveall, owner of Morning Sun Herb Farm, as they chat about how to grow herbs.
- Florence Nishida recently gave another talk with tips for urban food growers. Watch it by clicking on this link.
- Read more about Florence Nishida on this 2013 article “From museum gardener, seeds of change” from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors website. The same article can be found on the Japanese American National Museum's Discover Nikkei website.
- In this 2011 clip from KCET's “The Edible Garden” titled “Florence Nishida on Collecting Seeds for Next Year,” Florence Nishida shares her tips on collecting seeds. Watch it below.
- Read more about urban community gardens in this 2019 article from West Luxury Magazine, featuring Florence Nishida's LA Green Grounds. Find the article link here.