47. “The Garden Revolution: Planting Native Plants” with Shubber Ali, Garden For Wildlife by National Wildlife Federation

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Welcome to episode 47 of the Nurtured by Nature podcast, today I’m delighted to be joined in conversation by Shubber Ali, CEO of Garden For Wildlife by the National Wildlife Federation in the USA. 

Restoring Native Habitat is one of the greatest tools we have to help to reverse the biodiversity crisis in our world. Your Native plants (often those sadly known as “weeds”) have co-evolved alongside the pollinators, insects, songbirds and wildlife in your ecosystem, they are the ones that will not only attract pollinators but actually allow them to complete their lifecycles by being food for the caterpillars and adolescent forms, which are a vital link in the chain to a thriving world.

Unfortunately knowing which plants are native to your region, finding those suitable for your garden conditions and then being able to actually source them can be a challenge that quickly prevents many well intentioned gardeners being able to be part of this powerful solution. This was the challenge Shubber himself faced having been inspired by Douglas Tallamy’s book Nature’s Best Hope: A new approach to conservation that starts in your yard. 

What unfolded is an incredible e-commerce business that harnessed the decades of knowledge and information that Garden For Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation already had but now allows gardeners across most of the USA to simply enter their zip code and find exactly what plants are native to them and then order them and have them delivered to their door. As if this wasn’t enough built into the system is an incredible ripple effect, every plant purchased means a native plant will also be planted in a community garden, and an incredible recently launched affiliate programme is allowing non-profits in any sector to fundraise by having their supporters buy and plant native plants.

I truly had such an amazing time speaking with Shubber, this episode is packed full of so much wisdom, he encourages us all to avoid complacency and to start questioning the Orthodoxies we encounter in every aspect of our lives, to ensure that we regularly step back and ask “What’s the real problem we need to solve?” Rather than falling into the common trap of creating solutions to the symptoms rather than the cause of the problem. He’s incredible passionate about making it easy for people to have an impact and is a beautiful reminder that business done well can be an incredible vehicle for positive change. 

I hope you will be as inspired by this conversation as I was, if you take up the just 1 plant challenge, please share your pictures with me on social media as I would love to see all your beautiful “weeds” taking over the world!!

Learn more about Shubber:

Shubber is a father, husband, gardener, and nature lover.  He’s currently CEO of Garden for Wildlife, a for-profit spinout he helped create for the National Wildlife Federation.  The mission: to help restore native habitat in yards across America in order to help our endangered pollinators and songbirds that have been declining for decades.  He’s spent over 30 years proving he can’t hold one job (or just do one thing at a time).  He’s worked on everything from the Space Station program and rocket systems to residential real estate software.  He’s spent much of his time in innovation consulting, done a stint as the VP of Innovation for Salesforce, been an adjunct professor at the Georgetown Exec MBA program and continues to guest lecture at the Emory Exec MBA program.  He’s on numerous advisory boards, from a generative AI company to Airbus, and is co-founder of multiple startup companies (some successful, some “great learning experiences”).  He has a dog and two cats, has planted over 100 trees and hundreds of native plants in his yard since the pandemic started (in addition to being a vegetable gardener), and reads a lot in his nonexistent spare time.   

Website: https://gardenforwildlife.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gardenforwildlife/

Wildlife gardeners facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/432123332899723/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/garden-for-wildlife/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gardenforwildlife/

Blog: https://content.gardenforwildlife.com/

Affiliate/fundraising platform: https://content.gardenforwildlife.com/fundraising

Other Useful Resources/Links:

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard – Douglas W.Tallamy

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative – Florance Williams

Forest Bathing – Nurtured By Nature Podcast Episode 14. “Forest Therapy” with Lindsey Death, Dorset Forest Bathing

The Merlin Bird App by Cornell Lab: https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

The Great Backyard Bird Count: https://www.birdcount.org/

Certified Wildlife Habitat: https://gardenforwildlife.com/pages/certify-your-habitat-garden-with-national-wildlife-federation

HomeGrown National Park Challenge: https://homegrownnationalpark.org/1-plant-challenge/

Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.

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