If you visit Good Earth Plant Company Inc. and GreenScaped Buildings president and owner Jim Mumford’s office, you will notice two things: plants hanging from and growing on walls, and plants growing from the roof.
Mumford has built a reputation for renting, installing and maintaining of plants, green roofs and green walls and has been doing so in San Diego and across Southern California for more than 20 years.
Chances are you have seen or heard about his work, as he is one of the few who does these types of installations in the county.
Mumford’s work has been published and broadcast in several newspapers and television stations over the years, and his companies have completed more than 16 green roof projects and numerous green walls and plant fixtures for corporate clients and private residents.
He uses succulent, drought–tolerant plants and local plants on his green walls and roofs. His roofs have two types: extensive and intensive. The extensive green roofs are like a large potted plant on the roof, and the intensive green roofs have elements you find at parks like fountains and pathways.
His work is displayed at Sharp Memorial Hospital, the new Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego Gas & Electric’s Energy Innovation Center and even in Hollywood at Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza.
“Some of the advantages to green roofs are biodiversity … cooling your building down, catching storm water runoff,” said Mumford, adding that green roofs will hold 60-80 percent of storm water.
His two businesses are blossoming, even during a sluggish economy, because of the network he has built and the expertise of his work.
“We’re busy enough (that) I don’t need to try and go hustle somebody to put a green roof on,” said Mumford, whose plants he installs are primarily grown locally. “Our clients are finding us.”
He explained he is fielding more inquiries lately from potential clients who want to put a green roof up, especially in Orange County and Los Angeles. He added that green roofs on an existing structure cost too much money because most old roofs will not support it, so those are not as popular in the market right now.
Mumford said that right now he cannot go after multimillion dollar projects for the military and health care providers because he cannot get bonded for these projects as a result of current economic conditions, an issue more prominent now in the construction industry.
This is one challenge facing Mumford, along with finding experienced personnel in the industry who know what they are doing and not bidding the job too low.
As a result, Mumford finds himself speaking and promoting more and more to colleges, public agencies and private associations.
“I’m advocating green roofs,” said Mumford, who also does some consulting and design work. “I’m doing as many talks as I can, from the little old ladies garden club in Rancho Bernardo to the bigger architectural firms in town. … I’m trying to get the word out and educate as many people as I can.”
Mumford even has the industry's future leaders coming to him for his knowledge.
A college student interviewed Mumford for her thesis paper on the urban agriculture movement, which turned out to be 90 pages. Mumford told her he loves this part of the sustainability movement, not only because of installing green roofs and walls, but also growing food on existing structures.
He also explained to her the challenges and issues related to this movement, including following building codes, getting the right permit and even problems you don’t think of until you actually do what Mumford does for a living.
“We had the Urban Corps (of San Diego County) come to us, and they wanted to put edible (plants) in vacant lots and alleys,” Mumford said. “And I said, ‘OK, but who’s liable if a bum comes up and (urinates) on a tomato tonight and someone eats it in the morning and gets sick?’
“There are all kinds of wonderful ideas going around, and again, it’s why I love this so much,” Mumford added.
Mumford also finds pleasure and satisfaction in teaching local residents.
He will hold an open house and plant sale on March 23 and 24 at his office in Clairemont at 7922 Armour St. He said he is doing this because he has received so many requests to see and touch his green roof systems and living green walls, which he has displayed on his roof and behind his offices in a patio area.
“Folks are not allowed on our roof, but we use a scissors lift to give them a bird’s-eye view,” Mumford said. “Attendees will be able to see, touch (and) feel our nine different indoor green wall systems and eight different exterior green walls, as well as five green roof systems.”
Mumford and his staff will also hold three workshops on green walls, green pest controls and hydroponic vegetation on March 24.