In Their Own Words

Ryath and honey mushrooms


My work at OAEC:

My primary foci include nurturing the nursery’s current plant inventory and propagating additional plants in anticipation of projected sales and onsite landscaping needs. I am also responsible for expanding the nursery program’s marketing through networking with local landscape designers and organizations, and I contribute to a variety of landscape projects and maintenance at OAEC.

My background:

A lifelong Californian, I was in Orange County for my first twenty years, where I saw a mostly rural place radically transformed into suburbia. Nature was a backdrop, a purely aesthetic and almost sterile compliment to the stucco. So few oranges.

In shock, sadness, and looking for direction, I headed north and landed in Los Osos, near San Luis Obispo. I found an old growth oak preserve, its fungi, and a plant propagation course re-uniting my soul with Mama Gaia as I remembered playing in the dirt as a child. But it was the plants and mushrooms I foraged that informed me it is soil that nurtures and provides for us. I fell in love. A primal call stoked a fire that is now raging in me: study Earth Magic; grow more life. That, and learning useful stuff about food, is pretty much what I’ve been doing ever since!

My favorite resiliency resource:

Seed distributors!

Why my work matters:

After my reunion with Gaia and the amazing growth it provided me, I have come to accept that I am an environmental educator/translator. My work matters because when I share my knowledge or experience, I observe the same wide-eyed curiosity and amazement in my listener’s expression that I feel every day. I love that!

My hero(es!):

Michael Pollan, John Veres, and Rocky Rohwedder have played particularly important and encouraging roles in my life. John taught my first plant propagation course, which rapidly propelled my relationship with the plant kingdom. Mr. Pollan, an extremely valuable resource during my time studying our food system and nutrition, describes a morel hunt in Omnivore’s Dilemma; his imagery illuminated a raw, primal need in me and convinced me to begin foraging mushrooms, my entry to mycology. Rocky was my advisor at Sonoma State University and is doing really awesome, inspiring work! I am forever grateful to them all!

My wildest experience:

I was sixteen and near Osaka, Japan. My family and I had just placed an ornate pouch of my Japanese grandmother’s ashes in a cemetery on top of a beautiful, snowy mountain in March. There was a Buddhist chant and chime, and it was my first, direct exposure to the ephemeral truth of bodily existence. Afterward, we went to a very dim, hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we played a Japanese game akin to “paper, rock, scissors” and drank what my great uncle said was “Japanese water.” We were served just-gutted, still-twitching, head-attached sashimi while overlooking the in-house pond from whence it came.

My dream project:

My dream project is starting a next-generation seed farm.

My passions:

My passions include soil evolution and ecology, horticulture, applied mycology, decompositional succession, cooking, nutrition, compost, worms, stretching, food-medicine independence, and playing in water! I also really enjoy connecting people with Earth, particularly through the tactile, perceptual, and olfactory sensations of everything above. Oh, and flowers!