Braiding Sweetgrass Inspires Lompico Pond’s Community-Led Revival

I was inspired to work on the restoration of Lake Lompico (Guacamole Pond) while reading Robin Wall Kimmerer's “Braiding Sweetgrass.” Kimmerer, a trained botanist, combines science with an indigenous worldview. She focuses on reciprocity - giving back to nature.

One of the essays in the book told the story of Kimmerer’s purchase of an old farmhouse set on 7 acres of land that included a pond, overgrown with invasive weeds and filled with algae. Kimmerer set to work on years of clearing the pond, determined to create a summer swimming hole for her two daughters and their friends. Her vision of the pond made me think of our own ‘Guacamole Pond.’

I have lived across the road from Guacamole Pond for 20 years. A sizeable rusted drainage pipe sticks out of the pond, whose surface is covered with duckweed, thus the nickname, Guacamole Pond. I had thought of it as a toxic swamp, but as I spent more time there, I noticed all of the birds and wildlife, some seasonal visitors, some year-round residents.

Years ago, several residents met to clear the path around the pond. I wondered whether the water was healthy. Back then, there was a chorus of frogs at night whose voices I hadn’t heard for many years. I began to wonder if it was possible to bring the frogs back and restore the pond by improving the health of the water environment and better supporting the native plants growing around the pond.


To love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

In October 2022, The Lompico Ladies Book Club read Braiding Sweetgrass as our book choice. I decided to hold our book club meeting by the pond and share the idea of its restoration. We spread a blanket among the redwoods at the side of the pond for our meeting spot. I was surprised by how many neighbors walked by while we were meeting, taking the small path around the pond for an afternoon of fresh air or walking their dogs. I realized a lot of people care about the pond.

It just so happened that the CZU Fire Remembrance Event at the Brookdale Lodge was held that week. Many agencies were present that day, but the one I was drawn to was the Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County. Their water resource table had Lompico Creek stickers for attendees to take home!

I had a wonderful conversation with Angie Richman, the representative from the RCD. She advised having a site visit and began to work on scheduling a tour of the pond with her colleagues, who were experts in water resources, frog habitat, and native plants.

The site visit was soon scheduled for the fall of 2022. Along with several members of the community, a native plant expert, a representative from County Environmental Health, and two representatives from the RCD met to tour and survey the pond. 

A couple of weeks following the site visit, the RCD provided us with a site assessment, which contained our blueprint for beginning our community-led effort to care for and restore the pond.

—Julie Ward, Lompico/Zayante Women’s Social Club

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Unveiling Lompico:
A Pond’s Memoir

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