Grant Spotlight: Test Plot, 2022 Building Climate Resilient Parks Grantee | Cal Parks
Published: October 17, 2022

About the partner 

Test Plot is a land-based practice based in Los Angeles that celebrates the labor involved in land care. Test Plot seeks to establish longer term, care-based relationships between local communities and the public lands they engage with, operating somewhere between native gardening and habitat restoration. They provide training and resources to select a site, develop experimental planting strategies, design a layout, install, maintain and monitor the plot for 2 years through establishment. What they plant and what actions they take differs at each Test Plot location and community. In this way, Test Plot serves as a hands-on living laboratory for knowledge building around hyper-local ecological resilience, land-based care practices, and civic engagement.  

Test plots group at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Creating impact through partnership 

The Building Climate Resilient Parks grant allows Test Plot to dig deeper into models of community-based land care with the goal to articulate and test strategies at two urban California State Parks in Los Angeles, Rio de Los Angeles State Park and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. At both sites, they have established initial test plots and stewardship models. In doing so they have had to adapt the model of care and maintenance to address the specific conditions of each site as well as those of each community, which has led to the need to answer the questions:  

  • Who engages with urban state parks, and why? Who does not, and why not?

  • What types of outreach and organization are effective in different communities and contexts?

  • How can the Test Plot model be expanded to other state park ecologies and communities? 

Based on the Test Plot assessment and precedent research, a short list of stewardship ideas to trial at Rio de Los Angeles State Park and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook will be created. The goal is to develop and communicate insights that will enable Test Plot to replicate and distribute knowledge to other communities. The intent is to guide the outcomes of environmental stewardship investments at state parks and use these lessons to advocate for legislation that supports stewardship, which in turn supports climate resilience in urban parklands. 

Demonstrating to volunteers how to plant native vegetation.

The benefit for parks 

One way to improve local stewardship at state parks is to create connections between the state parks and local communities. By introducing this program, an ecological and social infrastructure based on engagement with Test Plot can be created. Test Plot will document the perspectives from multiple participants and stakeholders on what is working within the current program and provide a platform (i.e., a series of workshops at both parks) to enable residents to share lessons learned and knowledge. This will be shared within their own stewardship group but also between groups across Los Angeles. Developing knowledge and skills and creating a system to support others to do the same work in other state parks will support a more climate resilient state park system. 

They have also created an info book about Test Plot which you can download here.  

You can learn more about Test Plots here: