One of the three pillars of our mission at Adapt is to plant native and perennial edible gardens, for free, for those who would like to begin the process of healing their land but may not have the expertise, time, or funds to see a project through.
Thanks to our growing and generous community of supporters, we have funding this year to offer over 200 fifty square foot micro-meadow gardens and kits in our Adapt communities. Our hope is that these small, easily understood and fun to care for plantings will create and connect native habitat, increase local food resiliency, and provide fertile ground for a growing restoration of our relationship to the land.
Please share this with anyone you know who would be interested.
You can request a free garden, consultation or garden kit on our homepage. The volunteer leader of your region will contact you to set up a time to discuss details.
Please consider becoming a supporter so that we may continue to offer our services to more people in more communities. It’s EASY PEASY and you’ll sleep well at night knowing your dollars are going toward building native plant gardens and a culture of ecological wisdom.
We believe that each of us, and each plot of land, is vital to a healthy future. Adapt exists to sustain and promote the connections between people and the land that supports us through community co-creation of native plant and perennial food landscapes.
Through crowdfunding, education and volunteer effort, we aim to build a community network that supports the restoration of native plant and perennial food landscapes on small parcels of privately- and publicly-owned land where there might otherwise not be the resources to do so.
Selling a home and moving is one of the most stressful life events that we do to ourselves. When we’ve put our efforts into creating a beautiful, life-giving native landscape, the emotional burden can often be too much to bear. Our fears of destruction begin to obscure what our landscape ultimately gives us – a deep, abiding connection with all that other living beings with whom we share our piece of this Earth.
It’s crucially important that we remember that the future home owners are also among those living beings! With deep breaths and a resolute dedication to share our knowledge and experience, we can create the conditions for the future home owners to connect with us and the landscape that we have fostered into existence.
I know this from my own experience. In 2020 we sold our home of 11 years for an adventure of a lifetime (more on that at a future date). It was imperative to us that we found buyers who would continue the work that we started.
*first a caveat* I would not recommend planting your front yard the way we did. For most people in most places, what you see above is absolutely not appropriate, especially so close to a sidewalk. We, however, live in Ann Arbor AND in a neighborhood that celebrates this level of botanical fecundity. This was appropriate for us because we could get away with it and no one would bat an eye.
Our landscape started with only a few native plant species that were hiding in an unkempt corner of the yard. By the time we left there we at least 112 native and perennial edible plant species.
These plants supported countless insect species. Bird and mammals found shelter and food. We found delight and connection.
This was a LOT to communicate to say the least.
The first thing I did was to compile a list of all the species that I knew to be on the land. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to reflect on all the work that we had done over the years. Each species added represented a distinct moment in our lives and memories of the work came flooding back. It also gave me the opportunity to reflect on all those experiments that didn’t work. (I like to tell people who think they can’t grow plants that I’ve likely killed more plants than they have tried to grow. Thus my thumb appears green.)
The next step was to create a simple map of what I considered to be the most important plants on the property. These are the plants that I feel provide the most ecological impact, are easiest to manage, look the best and should absolutely remain no matter what. Most of these were woodies species, but as you can see below I also included the rain gardens and black raspberries.
Making a map of your property will give the future home owners the ability to make sense of the garden. Your map should primarily reflect your values. Your values can then be tempered with reflection as to what a future home owner can reasonably be expected to understand. Remember, people are smarter and more interested than you give them credit for! People naturally care and want to do good! Allow them to!
Then I made another map that simply showed the different beds. I wasn’t going to burden them (or myself) with trying to map out individual or groups of plants. After 11 years and most of it started from seed there was no way that would make any sense. But this map below at least gives a sense to the prospective buyer how much of their future property is in garden. This would be especially important if they are buying in the late fall through early spring when all the plants are keeping themselves warm underground!
This leads then to the hard part – creating a coherent narrative that prospective buyers will find appealing. Keep in my that you are selling your house, not just your landscape! You want to give the buyers the feeling that they CAN take care of it, they will ENJOY taking care of it, and that it fits in with the culture of their new home. Give as much concise and coherent detail as you can. Your narrative will be longer the more garden elements you have in your landscape. We had veggies, herbs, raingardens, fruit trees, fruit shrubs, flower beds, wild areas, etc. There was a lot to talk about!
Below is the letter we wrote. This was included in the description of our home.
“Maps have been provided to show a broad view of the vegetation. We would be happy to make more detailed maps if the buyers are interested.
The City of Ann Arbor encourages homeowners to landscape with native plants in order to conserve and restore biodiversity (especially insect pollinators), mitigate climate change and reduce stormwater pollution. The city does not have any height or setback limitations for well-designed and cared for native landscapes except for preserving sight lines. This landscape conforms to the city’s code.
This mostly native landscape requires very little in terms of maintenance, The main task will be cutting back vegetation that is encroaching on the sidewalks. This can take place once or twice depending upon the home owners comfort level, once in mid June and again in early September. We have used garden shears to take the vegetation down to 18 inches in a foot wide buffer along the sidewalks. This takes about 30 minutes.
The second task is weeding out any invasive plants that may be trying to sneak in. The main worries are non-native shrubs like common buckthorn and honeysuckle, as well as herbaceous plants like garlic mustard and dames rocket. They can all easily be pulled out of the ground as seedings. We will provide photos for identification and a “how to” guide if the buyers would like.
Stems and leaves can be left for the winter where they provide visual interest and habitat for over-wintering pollinator species as well as enriching the soil and creating a natural mulch. Stems can be cut to 18 inches in early May or removed and composted or turned into mulch.
The native gardens flower from early April through early November. In addition to the ever-changing floral and vegetative display, the garden delights with fragrances from the American plum in the spring to the switchgrass in the late summer. Birds nest regularly here and have a buffet of caterpillars (who only eat native plants) to feed their young. Butterflies are found throughout the growing season but reach their peak in August. You’ll find dragonflies darting around every corner.
In addition the birds and bees, this garden does attract toads and mammals. If you want to grow veggies, make sure you keep your fence sturdy.
The strawberry patch will reward you handsomely for any effort you put into it. Fertilize in the spring, eat DELICIOUS berries in the summer, and prune the runners in the fall. We will include a guide to taking care of strawberries if wanted
Cultivated red raspberry are growing in the front yard along the vegetable garden. Their maintenance involves removing dead stems (having only three stems for every 18×18” square of land), winter pruning to 4 feet tall, and eating tons of raspberries for 6 to 8 weeks in the summer. Pull out raspberries that are sneaking out of their patch in the spring and summer.
Wild black raspberries grow in the back yard. They don’t necessarily need any maintenance, but they will produce a lot more fruit if they are occasionally pruned. (This will also keep them from expanding their boundaries)
We will have them covered in straw. They received a heavy amendment of compost in the spring of 2020.
There are quite a few edible perennials around the landscape from herbs to berries to perennial greens and even an almond tree! All of these are listed in the species list. We will be happy to help you identify and get to know these plants if you are interested. Some of the edible perennials include: rhubarb, scorzonera, sea kale, chokeberry, juneberry, hardy almond, elderberry, spiderwort, asparagus, and sunchokes. The landscape has been a blessing to build and to grow along side. Having a place right outside the front door, in a city, that children can go to catch toads, chase butterflies and climb a cherry tree while grazing on the fruit, has been very rewarding. Please do not hesitate to reach out at any point and ask any questions you may have. We are happy to help in whatever”
I think the most important thing we put in this letter was that we were willing to continue helping the future buyer. Knowing that you have support feels good, right?! OFFER YOUR ASSISTANCE in whatever way you can.
Ultimately we ended up finding the PERFECT couple to purchase our home. I am continually delighted to see that the landscape we started is continuing to thrive and expand.
As we’re not able to put links in our videos yet, I figured I could put the design up here. But first, the video!
This garden is 20 feet wide by 140 feet long. It’s a big boi! Most importantly though, this garden would not be possible without the removal of some pretty massive Norway Maples. What did it look like with all those maples you ask?
You can’t possibly plant a decent native plant garden under that. Ughhhhhh. You just gotta get ride of them. It’s Ok!
When you do get rid of them, you can plant this!
Looking for design or installation help? Send us a message and we’ll help turn your garden fantasies into reality.
Happy New Year! At least I think it should be. Hopefully the holidays were great for all of you. Our has finally fallen victim to the latest wave of the coronavirus. Though sequestering ourselves from society isn’t the most fun for our extremely sociable family, we are glad that we thoroughly enjoy each others’ company and that our illness is mild (thank you Pfizer!)(20 year old Billy would never have imagined 42 year old Billy saying that.) Because of illness, this will be an abbreviated email. STAY SAFE out there friends, and do good.
In late December, Adapt filled out the necessary paperwork, paid our fees and applied to become a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 organization with the IRS. We hope to hear about our status before the spring.
Finally, we are introducing our new community leaders on Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks. Head on over there to meet the team. Or wait until next month when we introduce everyone in our email.
We wish you all the best, especially over the next few weeks. Take it day by day, enjoy where you are and we’ll be out of this in no time. April is 11 weeks away…
interview with SustainabiliME podcastLate in November we recorded an interview with Kelly McElroy, a graduate student at the University of Michigan School for Environment And Sustainability, for her podcast: SustainabiliME. Click here or below to listen.
This is the day that many of you have been waiting for. Our Service Request Form is now open! Requests received during this current enrollment period will be fulfilled in the late winter – early spring (consultations) and late spring – early summer (installations and kit pick-ups). It is our sincerest hope that we can fulfill every request we receive. BUT! We need your help. Please only request the service that you are able to receive. If you are not ready, no worries! There is always the autumn. If you are ready, click on the link above and make a request for a consultation, a garden kit, or a micro-meadow installation.
Give. Donate on Patreon so we may continue to bring our services to new areas.
Serve. Volunteer with Adapt in whatever capacity you are able.
Regenerate. Bring back the native ecosystem where you live
We had the wonderful opportunity to work with Cathryn and Mario in early November. They enthusiastically invited us to host our first shrub cutting workday at their beautiful home in Ypsilanti. This beautiful home happens to also be surrounded by quite a few beautiful black and white oaks as well as pignut hickory complete with an intact understory of spring ephemerals like trillium, bloodroot, cutleaf toothwort and may apple. With the increased light reaching the soil and decreased competition from the shrubs and vines, we expect to see a dramatic increase in the native wildflowers over the next few years. Click on the photo above to learn about common invasive shrubs in the midwest and northeast.
October was an incredibly productive month of an incredibly productive year. Our nearly final numbers for our second year show us having directly helped 150 individuals and organizations thus far, with most of that help in the form of garden installations and consultations. Undoubtedly, our organization has touched and been touched by many more people through conversations, volunteer workdays, and excited new gardeners and ‘adapters’ paying it forward. Generous donors have contributed $8672 this year on Patreon, and those donations continue to make this Community Supported Ecology possible. This money not only helped bring native plants and ecological education into our communities, it has also supported three local native plant nurseries in Michigan.
Speaking of Patreon, we have received an incredibly generous offer from a supporter here in Ann Arbor. They are going to match all of the new monthly and yearly support we receive in the last two months of this year! Become a supporter now and effectively double your support for the first year. Your support will becoming increasingly important as our efforts expand into more cities.
Lastly, we will be contacting those who have signed up for fall and winter consultation in the coming weeks. Please be on the look out for our email so we can set up a time to talk.
It’s our first newsletter! Thank you all for joining us in this adventure toward building a Community Supported Ecology. In our newsletters we will share updates on our efforts, book recommendations; and some easy, beginner friendly tips on ecologically appropriate and productive gardening. Overall, this newsletter is for YOU! Let us know what you think of it and what we can do to make it more helpful to you.
We take this idea of Community Supported Ecology very seriously (while still being irreverent and fun, because who likes a crankypants?). We are all in this together: top to bottom, side to side and all around. Being human, being animal, being of the Earth, inextricably binds each and every one one of us to one other and to all of life around us. This is a truth that does not require great leaps of the imagination to experience, and feel and know. So let’s support each other and support the ecosystems that allow us to experience the great joy and wonder of being alive!
As this is our first newsletter, please forgive all of the awkwardness of design. We are not first-rate email newsletter makers. We are ecologists! But we will get better at this, especially when we aren’t planting 10 gardens a week. Your patience with us is greatly appreciated. So without further ado…
The MLive article, Lose the Lawn, really blew up Adapt in September. Since then, we’ve had over 100 requests for services, 45 new supporters on Patreon, and 55 people join our volunteer list. Whew!
This year, we’ve built 35 gardens including a large pollinator garden in Manistee, consulted with over 40 people on their own landscapes and native gardens (including one who created her own version of Adapt – shout out to Theresa and Oregon Nature Alliance in Oregon, WI!), and had our first plantings with volunteer help. Thanks to all of you who have volunteered! It’s been wonderful to meet and work alongside you. We have 20 more gardens to plant before we give away our fall garden kits in two weeks.
One of our volunteer leaders, Jonathan Parker, has also been engaging groups including the Inter-Cooperative Council at Ann Arbor to discuss transitioning large areas of lawn into native plantings.
Inspired? Take a photo and post to social media with #CommunitySupportedEcology
We have to use this first opportunity to recommend what we think is the single most important book one could read if they are just starting into learning practical ecological restoration: Nature’s Best Hope, by Douglas W. Tallamy. Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, has done elegant and ground breaking research on the importance of native plants for promoting insect abundance, especially for Lepidopteran species (butterflies and moths). This book takes you on a short history of conservation efforts in the United States, and then clearly spells out the current problem and possible solutions. (cheat sheat: plant native oaks, cherries, willows, asters, goldenrods and sunflowers). This book is an absolute must have in everyone’s library. Pick yourself up a copy and get an extra for a friend!
Leave the leaves!Just a reminder that fallen leaves are a normal part of the seasonal ecological processes that sustain life through the winter – a cover of leaves as it naturally falls provides cover for overwintering animals and food for microorganisms, and adds organic matter and fertility to the soil. Of course, since many of us live in urban and suburban environments, it’s important to remain mindful of places where leaves can safely remain (garden beds, naturalized areas, lawns) and places where they should be cleared for our own safety (storm drains, gutters, sidewalks). And remember, brown is a color! Enjoy the autumn!
All of the work we do is possible only because of our supporters on Patreon. Please become a supporter today and help fund our mission of building Community Supported Ecology