In Their Own Words

My work at OAEC:

The work I am honored with at OAEC is to consciously tend to the gardens that grow food for this community and all who visit it. These gardens boast a wild number of plant varieties from across the globe and nourish the people, insects and soil they live in harmony with. My role here includes leading interns annually in the garden, but the truth is the garden is the leader. I hope to cultivate vibrant aesthetics, flavorful food and healthy ecosystems that inspire the hearts of all experience the gardens.

My background:

I come from a small community in the seacoast of New Hampshire, where our ecosystems are rich in biodiversity. I was raised on the edge of one of the minor tributaries of the Great Bay. My childhood was full of adventures all over New England into the mountains, forests, rivers and ocean. I fell in love with the endless wonder of nature as a kid and cosmically found myself in a job gardening as a young adult. It was love at first tomato.

The addiction of gardening and farming took root quickly and I began a journey of independent study. I delved into many courses including advanced and urban Permaculture Design Certifications, natural resource stewardship, herbal studies and more. I crafted my first permaculture design for a one acre restaurant garden where I spent six years tending the land using low-impact and regenerative practices. It was here that I learned the most – through trial and error and through observation and listening to the land, I became a gardener and earth steward. After years with the restaurant garden, I spent time working on the production scale of organic vegetable farming. Here I learned how to work on a larger scale, how to effectively manage a greenhouse (particularly in the cold new England climate) and how to market what I grew.

I have learned that one of the best ways to deepen my knowledge is to teach. I have taught permaculture courses at the University of New Hampshire, along with workshops in garden clubs, schools, grange halls, conferences and naturally, in the garden.  It is in the eyes of students that I see hope for future generations of people and places – the awe, inspiration and fresh passion of learners are a driving force for much of my work as these will be the hands of change.

Outside of my roles are a gardener and educator, I have found myself as a milkmaid at an organic research dairy, as a flower farmer and florist, in a compost company staff, as a grower and curator of a historic garden, as baker and cocktail maker, a community organizer, a women’s circle leader and so many more roles.

My passions:

PLANTS! I am so in love with plants; learning all their names, what they do, how they grow, how to use them, their history and their companions & communities. As a plant lover, I also fell in love with bees. I spent the last 7 years keeping bees in various styles of hives, experimenting with what worked best for natural beekeeping in the cold New England climate. I am in awe of the hive mind, happily watching them work swiftly and methodically, and I’m amazed with their impressive efficiency. Additionally, I deeply enjoy hand crafts. Weaving, writing, metalsmithing, painting, medicine making, flower arranging, cooking, foraging & wildcrafting – keeping my hands are in motion, keeps me happy.

Why my work matters:

I once was told that biodiversity is like insurance against the unpredictability of nature. Early on I learned that the place of greatest diversity is not the field, nor in the forest, but where the forest meets the field. This intersection fosters rich symbiotic relationships that are the foundation for resilient systems. The act of cultivating gardens, especially ones that interact with wild lands, are a means of building resiliency and nurturing biodiversity that, in the ever changing climate and culture of the world, are vitally important.

My favorite resiliency resource:

People – especially elders. The best advice on plants, soil, bees, building, and more have come from other people. Places such as grange halls and garden clubs bring together diverse communities with similar interests. In these spaces and circles is where I find resiliency at its best.

How I regenerate:

Soaking in water – the ocean, the river, the tub. Being in water brings me back to a neutral state where I feel like I can rebuild. I grew up on the river, behind a marsh and 15 minutes from the ocean. The river reminds me to go with the flow, to take it slow, while the ocean reminds me that I am wild. All life is so rooted in water – it feels only natural to go back to it for healing.

The wildest thing I have seen:

In the late summer / early fall of 2012 bioluminescent plankton, also known as Dinoflagellates, flooded in masses from the ocean into the great and little bay of the New Hampshire seacoast. A combination of particularly warm weather and the strong tidal currents pulled them into the smaller tributaries of the bay. I was lucky enough to receive a call from a friend who lived downstream from me, below the dam where the river meets the brackish water who spotted the firefly like lights in the water. We spent a sleepless night under the almost full moon paddling through the river and into the bay in awe of the twinkling plankton, who have a chemical reaction that results in light when they are physically disturbed. Each paddle stroke left a glittering trail through the water like a sight from a Disney movie. In my 20 years of living on or near the river and the bay, this was my only sighting of bioluminescence in these waters.