My name is Michelle Cohen and I live a 1/2 mile from Lake Michigan in Evanston, IL. I live with my family in a semi-urban community on a tiny plot of land. I am fortunate to have the Chicago Botanic Gardens nearby where I have taken certificate courses in Garden and Landscape Design, Plant Health, and Plant Materials. Previously I studied cultural anthropology and did fieldwork in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I started a garden design business 6 years ago with an emphasis on ecologically-minded design and maintenance. I love creating pollinator gardens, incorporating plants that have edible berries or foliage, and challenging people's reliance on mown grass for their yard scape. I've been fortunate to enrich my learning of ecological garden practices through symposia at Great Dixter in East Sussex, lead by Fergus Garrett. I first learned about forest gardens and permaculture through fellow students attending a week long garden design workshop at Chanticleer in Pennsylvania. I immediately became interested in learning more about permaculture, which is how I came across this class. Recently I discovered that Evanston has a small food forest that donates all of its edibles to the local food pantry. I'm hoping to get more involved with the food forest, but between my business and family it's been a slow process.
My understandings of permaculture are fairly rudimentary. I have a vague notion of guilds and I understand (I think) that permaculture attempts to mimic plant, animal, and fungi relationships found in ecosystems. Through this course I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of permaculture and how to put them into practice. Specifically, I'd like to creatively employ some of the principles of permaculture in home garden design.
Thank you and I look forward to learning with all of you!