We've all heard the benefits of native plants – to name a few, they support native wildlife, use less water, and don't need much maintenance. While few city-dwellers have their own patch of green to cultivate these natural beauties, there is a very special place in the Presidio where you can get your hands-on gardening fix – the Presidio Nursery. No, you can't buy plants here. But you can acquire a great appreciation for the native species that can still be seen all around the Presidio though they have largely been lost to development in our built up city.
The Presidio Nursery was founded in 1995 and is run by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the Presidio Trust. The real stars of the show are the volunteers, who share thousands of hours each year to nurture young seedlings.
This "little greenhouse that could" grows up to 85,000 indigenous plants each year, which end up at restoration sites throughout the park. In addition, it grows many trees to support the park's reforestation effort, including about Monterey cypress, Coast live oak, Wax myrtle, and California buckeye.
The nursery consists of an educational garden and several buildings, including the Habitarium where volunteers meet, the Seed and Plant Lab where seeds collected from native plants in the park are stored and processed, and a Shade House where new seedlings go before they're planted at restoration sites.
Visit and Volunteer
The Presidio Nursery is in the park's Fort Scott District, just a five-minute walk east from the Fort Scott
PresidiGo Shuttle stop. If driving, park in the pay lot off of Appleton Street.
While you can visit Presidio Nursery to learn about the park's flora, get great gardening tips, and see behind-the-scenes ecological sustainability at work, volunteering here is your best opportunity for active learning – and allows you to give back to the Presidio, too.
On Wednesday and Saturdays between 1 and 4 pm, volunteers of all ages and experience levels can attend the drop-in program to get their hands dirty (families and small groups are welcome). Large groups should RSVP with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Volunteer Coordinator at (415) 561-3077 or
As a volunteer, you'll collect seeds, prune shrubs, transplant seedlings, help upkeep the garden. Whatever activity you do here, be proud you're preserving and restoring the biological integrity of the Presidio.
Need to know before you go: volunteers must complete a
Volunteer Agreement Form. Work happens rain or shine. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes; bring layers, a hat, a water bottle, and sunscreen, too. Training and tools are provided.
Learn more about the Presidio Nursery Drop-In Program >>