In 1991 I was eighteen years old and had moved from Seminole, FL back to my birthplace Indianapolis, IN where I would study under a Biologist for the following ten years. Under his instruction, I was taught how to sprout seeds, install and condition my first gardens, save seeds I had grown, raise chickens and incubate chicken eggs. I eventually passed this garden on to my housemate to steward and moved to the scenic Asheville, NC area for the next ten years. There, I was able to purchase property on the top of a mountain, and establish terraced gardens, fruit trees, fruit bushes, raise chickens, and raise a greenhouse. I started educating myself further on companion planting and using plants to work for the Permaculture setting I was building. I also learned how to use resources of the land to build garden beds and stream natural creek water to storage barrels at each garden sight.
Due to complicated health contentions with my then three year old daughter, I had to make an exhausting choice to leave my land and move back to Indianapolis, in 2013, in order for her to receive premium health care from one of the largest children's hospitals in the world. It was through her health and healing that I knew I needed to reestablish my original gardens. The wise women of the great Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina taught me to identify wild plants and herbs and how to forage and make natural medicines at home.
While digging back into my original garden, I discovered a Lemon Balm plant. It was not at all growing where I had planted it twenty-nine years before. I remembered those wise women ways, dug the Lemon Balm up and replanted it where I originally had planted it. Seven years later, I have a hedge of Lemon Balm, volunteers that are welcomed, placing themselves around the gardens as helpers, medicine and plenty of saved seeds. That was when I knew to continue on this path of growing. Seven years later almost my entire back yard is food, medicine and seed production. I now also practice Polyculture growing techniques.
I was invited to my first seed swap seven years ago. It was hosted by the Food Not Lawns Indianapolis Chapter. I was the only one that showed up and brought seeds to share. Less than a year later I took on the responsibility of the Food Not Lawns Facebook page. It became increasingly important to me that folks were not showing up to events like this and realized, at that moment, how important it is to raise more awareness and education towards seed saving and sharing as well growing our own food and medicinal plants wherever and everywhere we go.
I have an Indiana Educators permit and started taking this vital information into public schools. I have been able to work with an elementary school special needs teacher in creating a Cooking Club to offer children that were not able to participate in any other extra curricular activities due to health, behavior or poor attendance and grades. It is imperative to show children fresh produce and how to use it when they are young. I have assisted a middle school Science classroom in growing plants, saving seeds and continue to plant the school garden beds. It is vital to show children how to grow their own food. I teach at two Monastery schools during Garden Camp week and Art Camp week. Those children call me "Miss Garden People". I served the legal two years as President of my children's PTSA and am currently the Vice President. I also serve on the Farm to School Committee.
Three years ago I became an advocate for small farmers, fishers and ranchers by joining the Indiana Farmers Union. I immediately became one of the founders and the Vice President of Females Farming Forward. A chapter of the Indiana Farmers Union. Our foundation is legislation, education and cooperation. I annually travel to Washington DC to speak with Congress men and women on behalf of the Farm Bill and supporting small family farmers rural and urban. I am currently serving President of Females Farming Forward, Secretary and Board Member for the Indiana Farmers Union. I recently took my then thirteen year old son to speak with elected officials in Washington DC, it was because he mentioned he is an urban rare seed grower that Indiana congresswoman, Susan Brookes, invited him to go onto the house floor with her to vote. This and many other opportunities have been offered to my family since becoming a member. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity for my son. I have also been given the opportunity to be a trained Produce Safety Instructor and work with Purdue University County Extension Offices to teach Produce Safety classes to local farmers and growers.
It is because of my advocacy and passion for seed saving and preservation that I have been given the support and opportunity to coordinate Circle City Seed and Plant Swap from the Indiana Farmers Union. I just recently hosted the 3rd Annual swap and look forward to it continually growing to help educate and support other seed savers and nonprofit, environmental groups.
Growing and saving seeds has become my life's passion. I currently work with Seeds of Preservation Independence Seed Library and the Roughwood Seed Collection, growing out rare and endangered species for preservation. I have been able to restore and give back Tribal corn that is now feeding folks in an Oklahoma prison. I am currently inventorying a 25 year old seed collection that is being passed down to me to steward. I am very excited about this next adventure in growing opportunities and will continue to help raise awareness of the importance of seed saving and sharing.