2019 Annual Report

Deep Roots, formerly the Kansas City Native Plant Initiative

A Vision for our City

Kansas City has seen a remarkable transformation over the last several decades. In the 1980s, the River Market was full of empty warehouse spaces. Similarly, the Nelson-Atkins’ front lawn was an expanse of green grass, Union Station was boarded up, and Bartle Hall was just a convention center.

Today, the River Market is bustling, Union Station is restored, and the Kauffman Center is a highlight of our skyline. The Nelson’s shuttlecocks and Bartle Hall sky stations are iconic images of Kansas City.

Shouldn’t our landscaping be iconic too? Kansas City is a city on the edge of the great plains. We don’t need to look like Cleveland or St. Louis. When you drive into Santa Fe, New Mexico, you immediately know you are in the high, southwestern desert. Let’s embrace our own history and landscape. A landscape that is not only beautiful, but regenerative.


Thanks to underwriting from the Arvin L. Gottlieb Charitable Trust with additional support from the National Fish & Wildlife Five Star Foundation Grant Program, Deep Roots expanded its workshop audiences in 2019. More than 600 people registered for these workshops, a 21 percent increase over 2018.

  • Introduction to Native Landscaping
  • Land Stewards: Large Landscape Management for Novices
  • Expand Your Market with Native Plants
  • Rainwater in Your Backyard: Rain Gardens, Drainage Swales, and Erosion Control with Native Plants
  • Design & Management of Native Plants
  • Native Landscaping Immersion, Planting a Native Landscape
  • Managing Acres of Land: The Importance of High-Quality Prairie

In the summer following the 2019 winter/spring workshops, surveys show that attendees added thousands of native plants to their gardens.

I walked away with a ton of useful and actionable information. Exactly what I was needing! And totally exceeded my expectations!

Great program. Very educational and useful, can’t wait to implement what I’ve learned and to call on the resources that were shared.

Westport Garden Club volunteers at Plan It Native 2019.

Great speakers, topics and attendees! Nice to have the opportunity to be surrounded by fellow native plant enthusiasts – to network, share experiences and challenges.

The breadth of information and the expertise of the presenters was excellent.

Learn More: www.planitnative.org

In September 2019, Deep Roots organized its first annual conference, Plan It Native. Presented by the William T. Kemper Foundation, more than 300 people attended to gain valuable resources, knowledgeable connections, and new techniques to improve the health and beauty of their landscapes.

Plan It Native offered the expertise of local and nationally known experts. Combining educational programs with networking time, field trips, and more than 20 exhibitor organizations, the first Plan It Native conference was a landmark event for Kansas City and our region. Plan It Native 2019 featured Doug Ladd, former Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri as its opening speaker. Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, was Plan It Native’s keynote speaker.

Thank You Plan It Native 2019 Sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor
William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee
Keynote Sponsor
The Westport Garden Club
Gold Sponsors

MARC Water Quality Public Education Committee

Miller Hammond Charitable Fund

Silver Sponsors

KCP&L and Westar Energy

Missouri Conservation Department

The Nature Conservancy, Missouri and Kansas

Bronze Sponsors

KC Parks

Boulevard Brewing Company


National Wildlife Foundation

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Colonial Gardens

Missouri Wildflowers Nursery

Print Forest

Red River Valley Design

KC Can Compost

Scholarship Sponsor

Ryan Lawn & Tree

2019 Special Projects

• Deep Roots and its partners worked with Mid-America Regional Council in 2019 to identify strategies for beautifying vacant lots with native landscapes. Strategies focused on capacity building for neighborhood residents through training in community organizing, project management, and native landscaping.

• In partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, Deep Roots partners manage a native wildflower garden on campus. This setting invites visitors to stroll through the grounds and enjoy nature. It also serves to inspire their own landscaping decisions.

• Deep Roots is committed to increasing the market share for native plants and increasing accessibility of native plants for consumers. We help build a stronger market by organizing our own and promoting other organizations’ native plant sales.

• In 2019, Deep Roots worked with six of its partners to write case studies on their native plant landscaping experiences. From acres to gardens, campuses to developments, and backyards to small farms, Deep Roots case studies help people see opportunities, anticipate barriers, and plan and implement more native landscapes.

  • Loose Park Native Plant Gardens
  • A Native Plant Wonderland – At Home!
  • Shawnee Mission Park Native Prairies
  • Shawnee Mission School District Center for Academic Achievement
  • Winterset – Gale Communities
  • Prairie Birthday Farm

Regenerative Landscaping

Native plants’ flowers and leaves are crucial in our native habitat. Birds, butterflies, and pollinators rely on their nectar and seeds, and many caterpillars and larvae rely on their leaves. Our current landscaping practices create food deserts for insects, birds and butterflies. Ironically, despite their evolution to thrive in this climate, native plants cannot outcompete invasive species.

But native plants are more than habitat restoration.

Planting native species is one of the most significant actions you can take for the environment because they’re regenerative. Native plants trap carbon and other greenhouse gases, reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Native plants manage water flow, reducing flash floods. Native plants also clean water, keeping our streamways healthy.

Illustration: This year we sustainably printed note cards promoting a variety of native plants, illustrated by Nancy Waugh.

Increasing Native Landscapes

Deep Roots is committed to increasing native landscapes in our community. Deep Roots does this by increasing people’s appreciation for the beauty and function of native plants through targeted education, The Pollinator newsletter, and with demonstration gardens.

For native landscapes that thrive, people need to learn how to care for them. Professionals and laypeople need specific training and tools to incorporate these plants into landscapes. To do this, Deep Roots organizes workshops and an annual conference, Plan It Native.

Missouri Department of Conservation Partnership Award

In 2019, the Private Lands Division of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) presented a Conservation Partnership Award to Deep Roots.

“[Deep Roots] has become a leader in the promotion of native plants and coordinating the efforts of multiple groups. Their work has helped guide the education, implementation, and expansion of native plant projects throughout the metro Kansas City area,” said MDC Private Lands Services Division Chief Bill White during his presentation of the award.

Said White, “The accomplishment list for Deep Roots is long, even though the organization has only been in existence for a few years.”

Among other efforts, MDC recognized Deep Roots for:

  • Engaging citizens during native landscaping workshops at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center. One workshop drew the most participants at any single event held at that facility since its opening.
  • Adopting an area on the Discovery Center grounds to establish a native wildflower garden. The wildflower garden provides a hands-on learning experience for visitors to foster the vision of utilizing natives.
  • Establishing the Plan It Native Landscapes Conference, which featured national level speakers and set the bar for future events.

For information about our 2019 financials, click here.