About Our Co-op
Native plants for the people!
Swamp Rose believes that gardening with native plants can help build a more joyous, equitable, and sustainable world, and that everyone has the right to live and play in vibrant, sustainable landscapes.
Native plants transform our yards into dynamic, ecologically thriving spaces, with almost immediate benefits for local wildlife. Gardening therefore represents one of the most straightforward tools that we–as individuals and in community–can deploy in the fight against climate change and biodiversity collapse, issues that often feel overwhelming.
We launched Swamp Rose because gardening with native plants has deepened our relationship with the land and developed our sense of reciprocity with the natural world that sustains us. We’re so excited to share our passion with our community!
No Jefes! Or, why we’re a worker co-op
Swamp Rose is owned and managed by its workers. We make decisions collectively, share all profits, and pay sustainable wages.
The average landscaping worker in the metro DC region earns $15.85 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many landscapers are Latino immigrants who earn even less than this while working in harsh conditions for exploitative bosses. At Swamp Rose, we index our rates to the Living Wage Calculator designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One of our founding members who is a native Spanish speaker used the phrase “no jefes” – no bosses – when explaining Swamp Rose to a landscaper who now works with us. We found that it was very helpful in showing the difference between our company and the conventional approach in our outreach and recruitment efforts with landscape workers.
We take worker empowerment very seriously, and you can reference our Spanish-language brochure for more details.
Why Swamp Rose?
The swamp rose is a beautiful plant native to the vast wetlands that covered the Washington, DC area before colonization. Like another native plant and similarly-named swamp rose mallow, it provides critical habitat and sustenance for native bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife.
Wetlands are now understood to be among the most ecologically important ecosystems, and because of their inaccessibility often served as places of refuge for oppressed communities and people who were struggling to create a better world. We therefore see the swamp rose as a symbol of the values we hope to bring to our work–reciprocity with the natural systems that sustain us, solidarity with the workers whose labor we rely on, and a passion to share the beauty of our native landscapes.
The founding worker-owners of Swamp Rose co-op met each other through our community volunteer work and started organizing the co-op in 2021 after discovering our shared love of native plants and our interest in building alternative democratic spaces.