Sonoran Desert HOA Stewardship Project

Stewardship – From Dream to Reality
By Andrea Hoerr, Cohort 3

Ever since we bought our townhouse in the Foothills, I’ve dreamed about adding native flowers to the common property. With the support and challenge of the Capstone project, I knew that I had a chance to transform vague ideas into reality.

Using the project framework we learned, I put together a plan and a presentation for our HOA Board. The approach I took was to look at from a ‘what’s in it for me’ perspective of the homeowner. Why should the average non-Master Naturalist care? Several factors were identified: aesthetic improvement, butterfly habitat, reduction in fire risk by managing our common property more intentionally, and improving community cohesiveness.

Over the months of the Master Naturalist training, I continued to hone the message. Once I was able to get in front of the Board in late May 2019, the presentation and message were significantly improved from the original. By the end of October, the Board’s concerns were addressed, the scope was slightly modified, and I had full consensus from all parties.

The next goal was to get support from my neighbors. I put flyers inviting neighbors to two ‘Enthusiasm Parties’ at our house in November. Out of 137 homes, I had 20 people interested. These formed my core team, and donated $260 which was enough to get the project started. A mix of 13 different flowers were identified and ordered from Borderlands Restoration Network.

In early December, we spent a lovely morning at the Native Plant Nursery making seed balls. It was a joyful, fun experience that was enhanced by Jessie Byrd’s enthusiasm and support. When’s the last time you saw adults playing in the mud?

By Dec 15 the seed balls were dry, and a group of 10 scattered the marble sized seed balls in 5 different locations. We talked about the vision, and the challenges of not being in control of the weather, the germination rate, and all the factors that go into stewardship.

This was a wet winter so I had high hopes for a Super Bloom in our community.  So far, I have found 1 flowering plant – a mighty Penstemon!


What constitutes success in this case? I consider this to be a successful project and one that I will continue to press forward with. The community was engaged, the HOA board was supportive, and we got people talking about the possibilities! Many of our native plants take 2+ years to flower, so perhaps we will see the Super Bloom in 2021! For 2020, I will continue to look for donations and repeat the seed ordering, seed ball making and scattering activities.

I invite you to consider joining the Local Stewardship project team! It is an approved volunteer job, and there are so many possibilities to engage with our neighborhoods in a similar fashion. And it has been a BLAST!

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