Professionally, I am a sustainability coordinator at a community college, where I also serve on the green committee. The opinions expressed here are in no way meant to represent those of my employer.
In the past, I have trained and volunteered as a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener and worked at an independent garden center as a native plant buyer and gardening coach. I am a long time assistant steward of Thatcher Woods Savanna, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, and grow plants for the Native Seed Gardeners program. I am also a member of the Environmental Concerns Committee, Illinois Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers).
My home is a 35x150-foot urban lot in an old neighborhood built at the turn of the twentieth century on a prairie in the Chicago Lake Plain. The soil is black silt loam. The garden is mostly in the backyard. What started as grass with narrow borders of annuals along the fences has evolved into a bird and pollinator-friendly polyculture of mostly native species of shrubs, flowers and grasses, along with herbs, rhubarb and raspberries, and a small raised bed for vegetables, all surrounding a small ecological lawn. Like most gardeners, I am always experimenting with new plants. The garden functions as a kind of lab and its aesthetic appeal arises out of its ecological functionality rather than adherence to principles of visual design.
Ongoing collaborative projects:
Prairie Garden, with students and faculty
- We started this project in 2009 by seeding into sod. We also propagated native plants from collected seed and plugged them in during Spring 2010. Maintenance is ongoing.
- This project involves a twelve-acre property in central Illinois corn/soy country which is being made more sustainable. There is a restored pocket prairie and remnant hedgerows. We have planted many native trees and plan to restore the hedgerows with native berry and nut-bearing species.