Nature Nurtured Me
I grew up in the wilds of the McKenzie Valley in Oregon. My earliest and most vivid memories are of playing by the cold swift McKenzie River and adventuring in the nearby park and surrounding woods. Nature was my playground and haven. I loved everything about where I lived.
After I graduated high school, I moved to Washington County for a job and opportunities that I thought didn’t exist at home. I got a degree in Computer Information Systems and embarked on my career as a Web Developer. In that time I also fell in love and got married to my best friend, Charley.
We bought a house in suburbia that was good enough for now, but my heart longed for the embrace of nature. Despite my resistance, our roots grew deep. During this time we added two beautiful daughters to our lives.
Embracing my Reality
One day I realized I was waiting for a possibility rather than living my reality. Maybe I can’t live in paradise anymore, but I can make our home a paradise. I found permaculture through Amy Stross’ book, The Suburban Micro-Farm, and I was off and running. I read it cover to cover and sought out more books on Permaculture. I read Bill Mollison, Sepp Holzer, Toby Hemenway, and more.
Transforming My Yard, Transformed Me
I began transforming our property from a sterile lawn of grass and weeds growing in heavy clay into an oasis of life. Now we have delicious fresh food and herbs for the taking year-round. We have flowers everywhere, herbs for tea, cooking, and medicinal purposes, fruit trees, cane fruits, native plants, and of course vegetables.
Emboldened by my zeal for permaculture, I decided to earn my Permaculture Certificate by enrolling in OSU’s course. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was awarded my certificate. Eager to put my education into service, I designed a permaculture garden for my children’s elementary school. With the support of the principal and many other parents, we built the garden using grant funding. I built and ran the program with a friend and fellow parent, as well as dozens of other parent volunteers. It is a great source of joy to be able to share the hope of permaculture with young people. My favorite thing is to show our kids that they can be a force for ecological restoration in their homes and communities. A simple thought that runs contrary to the messages all around them that concludes that human activities on this planet are innately destructive. They love this idea so much that they choose to spend recesses with me in the garden asking, “What can I do?” Then, “What else can I do?”
Always craving a deeper understanding, I completed the OSU Master Gardener training in 2020. While, what I learned in training comes out in my writing, the advice on my website is my own and not Master Gardener advice. For that you will need to visit Ask an Expert page on the OSU Extension website.
Back at my home, everything is alive with buzzing pollinators and other insects. Birds feast on nectar, seeds, fruits, insects, and pick at the leaves of sunflowers and chard. The soil that was once something one could slice in the spring and would need a jackhammer to penetrate in the summer, is crumbly and alive with fungi, insects, microbes, and roots.
The tension of city life is buffered by the peace, life, and beauty of my own personal Shire. I sit in my garden and watch all of the life flutter and buzz while sipping my tea and enjoying a nice second breakfast.
I want you, my friend, to have this too.