Thirty years ago, Rancho Palos Verdes couple Bill and Barbara Ailor became concerned with the dwindling open spaces on the Palos Verdes Peninsula as development seeped in to threaten the spacious natural beauty of the coastal community. 

In 1988, the Ailors, along with residents and community leaders created the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy in an effort to preserve a verdant 1,400-acre site for posterity. The land was comprised of 10 reserves known as the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve in addition to another 200 acres in Rolling Hills Estates and San Pedro. 

The Conservancy is dedicated to its mission to protect and restore and to educate the public. Volunteers logged more than 25,000 hours, a testament to how much the community loves its wide-open spaces. 

As a means to that end, the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy, in partnership with the Terranea Resort, hosts its signature fundraising event, the elegant 2019 Palos Verdes Pastoral: Garden-to-Table Dining experience held on Oct. 27. The aesthetic Pastoral, now in its eighth year, honors the Peninsula’s commitment to preservation and connection to the land and sea. 

Executive Director Adrienne Mohan, who has been with the Conservancy since 2010, said the Pastoral is a culmination of volunteerism, nature preservation and a long list of generous community supporters and partnerships. 

“Now that most of the open space has been protected, we want to restore it,” Mohan said. “From a biology standpoint, it’s a challenging endeavor to bring back species on the brink.” 

Proceeds from the Pastoral benefit multiple land conservancy projects and overcoming modern day challenges such as drought and protecting species such as the California gnatcatcher and the Cactus wren, Mohan said. 

Palos Verdes Land Conservancy communications manager Louise Olfarnes said, happily, their challenges are not tackled alone. 

Terranea resort, celebrating 10 years in the community, was designed and built to respect its native surroundings. The folks at Terranea have worked with the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy to help retain the coast’s unspoiled beauty, including growing plants for the resort two years in advance of its opening.

The resort occupies only one-fourth of its 102 acre site, but allows guests to enjoy more than 75 acres of natural landscape, Olvarnes said. 

During the Pastoral in October, 200 guests will be seated outside on the Terranea Ocean Terrace Lawn against the spectacular backdrop of the Palos Verdes coastline.

Guests will be treated to a menu specially created by Terranea’s executive Chef Bernard Ibarra from local resources such as sea salt, honey and sage. Featured wine selections from the Peninsula’s local award winning vineyards will also be served. 

Another important community partnership, said Mohan, is with the city of Rancho Palos Verdes who recently granted $200,000 to the Conservancy to aid in the removal of high-hazard Acacia shrubs from the Portuguese Bend reserve. Local fire departments identified the shrub as a fire risk that grows wild on the peninsula and suggested its removal. 

The 22-acre project is already underway. 

“We are also partnering with the Los Angeles Zoo for the [acacia removal] project,” said Mohan who found out the zoo had a commissary program that would take the discarded shrubs. “They send staff down to bring back the freshly cut acacia to feed to the giraffes. The organization Room and Board in Torrance has large trucks that haul the plants away and or takes loads to the zoo, too. It’s a nice sustainable way to recycle the plant life.” 

Another major undertaking beginning this fall is a 15-acre project at Abalone Cove that will be directly supported by proceeds from the Pastoral event. 

The area has already been prepared and fertilized by hundreds of obliging goats, but lots of humans will be needed to plant more than 10,000 native shrubs in one of the peninsula’s most beautiful locations—volunteers welcome, Mohan said. 

This year’s Pastoral Chair is Diana Heffernan-Schrader, founder of Palos Verdes School Gardens, who has worked with Chef Ibarra, the Conservancy and volunteers to create the ambient atmosphere of the well-attended Pastoral. 

“We have created a one of a kind event based on the concept of local food, nature and community,” Heffernan-Schrader said. “It is a special evening where old friends and new enjoy a carefully crafted artisanal local and sustainable dining experience around a theme that enables us to appreciate the rare biodiversity of lands we are lucky enough to call home.” 

Want to go?

Palos Verdes Pastoral: Celebrating the Legacy of Land & Sea

A Garden to Table Dining Experience 

Oct. 27,  5 p.m. cocktails, 6 p.m. dinner 

Terranea Resort 

100 Terranea Way 

Ranch Palos Verdes, CA 

$250 per person 

Call: 310-541-7613 


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