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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


To round out Women’s History Month in style, this week we are back in conversation with Leslie Bennett, Oakland, CA based landscape designer creating gardens that help to nourish and tell the story of who we are, individually and communally.

With an academic background in environmental justice, land use law, cultural property and preservation, Leslie is the founder and owner of Pine House Edible Gardens a landscape design/build firm that creates aesthetic edible gardens and productive outdoor spaces. Leslie's works collaboratively with the Pine House design team to create culturally grounded gardens that provide as much visual inspiration as they do organic harvests of food, flowers and medicinal herbs.

As a Black-owned company and women-lead team, Pine House Edibles support making gardens accessible to all through their unique equity pricing program that supports their Black Sanctuary Gardens project, a series of garden spaces created in collaboration with Black women and Black communities in and around Oakland, CA. Creating places of respite and beauty that celebrate Black communities is essential as their work to grow a more beautiful and equitable world together.


Leslie and her team believe an edible garden can be a transformative space to grow and cultivate the world we want for ourselves and for our communities.  As many of you will recall, I profiled Leslie's work in The Earth In Her Hands, and featured one of her gardens in Under Western Skies, co-created and photographed by Caitlin Atkinson. It is a pure pleasure to be back in conversation with her once again.

Leslie's newest book, Garden Wonderland, written in collaboration with Julie Chai and photographed by Rachel Weill is publishing on April 2nd from Ten Speed Press. The book brings together all of Leslie’s wisdom, spirit, experience, and paradigm shifting passions! (While also bringing together the power of women and gardens in our world.)

All photos by Rachel Weill and Caitlin Atkinson, courtesy of Leslie Bennett, all rights reserved.

You can follow Leslie and her teamds' work online at: Pine House Edible Gardens and Black Sanctuary Gardens; and on Instagram at: @pinehouseediblegardens/  and @blksanctuarygardens

JOIN US again next week, when we get into the seeding spirit with gardener, inventor, and entrepreneur Anne Fletcher of Orta Kitchen Gardens, creator of an ingenious ceramic self-watering seed tray - that equals greater sustainability for you and the over-plasticed world. That’s next week, right here, listen in.


Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from

supporting initiatives that empower women and help preserve the planet through the intersection of environmental advocacy, social justice, and creativity.

Thanks to a generous matching grant from the Catto Shaw Foundation for 2024, all of your donations to Cultivating Place go directly toward helping us meet that match! All contributions help – go to the support button at the top of every page at Cultivating to chip in. Thank you in advance for supporting this program you love to grow with.



Thinking out loud this week....

Across the spring equinox line now – Lean into the light friends – and as my friend Dino reminded me recently - let it grow you.


In the upcoming segment of our conversation, Leslie talks more personally about the reality that our garden spaces and the cultural landscape out of which they are grown is not neutral or apolitical, and how it’s important progress when we can see and be intentional about how we want to grow our gardens within that truth.


In a way related to this, recently Cultivating Place and Pine House Edible Gardens, Leslie and I signed onto a US Gardeners for A Ceasefire in Gaza and the middle east a call to the global leadership community to find a way to address complex issues without war, violence, or genocidal offensives. If you would like to read the full call and consider signing the letter yourself in support of people, places, and plants ALL having an inherent worth and value and a right to thrive – please see the links HERE.


May humanity, compassion, diplomacy, and generation rather than degradation be among our first ethics as gardeners and as a humans.


As you listen to this week’s episode I am traveling in the Midwest, between Grand Rapids Michigan and South Bend Indiana. In South Bend, we will be recording and filming the first of the Cultivating Place Live: Dialogues to Grow By episodes, made possible by the Catto-Shaw matching grant this year. I can’t wait to let you know how this first one goes – and maybe even share some early sound or film clips. We are very close to meeting this match – just $15,000 to go!!


Many of you have asked for more information about the grant and what it is supporting in the work of Cultivating Place this year. There are three pathways built into the grant  - all in process right now: to make the program financially sustainable into the future; to work on a succession plan for the program beyond me as the sole voice/face; and to curate a series of special Cultivating Place Live: Dialogues to Grow By episodes around the country in celebration and support of the places we record and the intentional and beautiful Cultivation of them.


We are designing and beginning to plant seeds down each of these pathways, so stay tuned for more on each – including the announcements for two new guest host voices being rolled into the program later this year, and the announcement of some of the Cultivating Place Live programs in planning as we speak. I feel a little excited anxious the way we do when we’re waiting to see if our seeds really will germinate this year!


If you’d like to participate in helping us meet this match, you can chip in any amount through the support button at the top of every page at Cultivating, if you’d like to make a larger donation and receive a tax deductible receipt, checks can be made out to North State Public Radio, with a notation that the funds are in support of the Cultivating Place matching grant and mailed to North State Public Radio attn Sarah Bohannon 35 Main Street Suite 101 Chico, CA 95928.


Thank you most recently to Marcy, Alan, Katherine, Janet, Christl, Pliny and Ruth, Abigail and Dave, Sabrina, Flora, Diana, David, David and Carol, Phil and Joanne, and anonymous.


And thank YOU – every contribution means the world to this communal virtual place we cultivate here on this program together.





Cultivating Place is a co-production of North State Public Radio, a service of Cap Radio, licensed to Chico State Enterprises. Cultivating place is made possible in part listeners just like you through the support button at the top right-hand corner of every page at Cultivating

The CP team includes producer and engineer Matt Fidler, with weekly tech and web support from Angel Huracha, and this summer we're joined by communications intern Sheila Stern. We’re based on the traditional and present homelands of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. Original theme music is by Ma Muse, accompanied by Joe Craven and Sam Bevan.

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1 Comment

Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
a day ago

Leslie's works collaboratively with the Pine House design team to create culturally grounded gardens drift boss

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