Misti little is a naturalist, a gardener, a mother, and professionally she’s an environmental consultant working in GIS geographic information systems – which she describes as “basically Modern Cartography”. She is also an avid home gardener with her husband and young son on almost an acre of land, some of which is wetland, in the Houston Texas area.
A blogger about her outdoor adventures since the early to mid 2000s, Misti decided to dig deeper into learning more about what other home gardeners were doing when she and her young family settled in the Houston area and in her free time in 2015 she launched her The Garden Path Podcast to talk to, learn from, and showcase home gardeners doing interesting things.
A passionate naturalist in the garden, in the marina, and on the trail, she started on her naturalist journey wanting to be a marine biologist. She migrated up-stream some through geocaching and then serious hiking. During the Great Recession – from 2008 through 2011 Misti and her husband took some time to recalibrate as to what was really important their lives. During this time they through-hiked the The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, an iconic, and epic trail traversing 2200 hundred miles (essentially the length of the Eastern United States) between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine.
They also through hiked The Florida Scenic Trail – a more than 1200 mile trail running North to South in the state from a little east of Naples in the south, to just south of Pensacola in the North.
"It's Wild, It's the World, It's the Garden."
Misti Little, Gardener, host of The Garden Path Podcast
In our conversation Misti talks about how her perspective from curious marine biology student wanting to decode the language of dolphins to long distance trail hiker to mother and home gardener, her many paths have confluenced into an ever more observant, interested, and dedicated advocate for the natural world. She describes her own home garden practice and her hopes in sharing her own passions forward - from raising her son to encouraging us all to get out there and see, learn, savor every chance we get. To get a broader perspective on where ARE and what we want to do and be intentionally as a result.
Follow along with Misti's garden and tail life journey on Instagram: @thegardenpathpodcast, or online: thegardenpathpodcast.com
AND - Join us again next week when we’re joined by well known horticulturist, plantsman gardener and author Matt Mattus – whose Growing with Plants Blog and Mastering the Art of Vegetable Growing book will inspire. And he’s at work on a new book about the flower garden – listen in for this next week.
THINKING OUT LOUD this week..
SO.....There’s something about my conversation with Misti and about Misti’s work generally that brings to mind the work and power and impact of Rachel Carson.
Most people know of Rachel Carson’s culture-altering work Silent Spring, in which she documents the apocalyptic effects of the pesticide DDT on the eggs and therefore the reproductive capacity of songbirds (among other terrible consequences). Her efforts led to the banning of DDT and though we still have many other pesticides and environmental poisons to contend with, her efforts led to a dramatic recovery for song bird populations.
What some people don’t know and I love to remember this myself is that her life work was in fact marine biology. Carson lived from 1907 to 1964 – and was according the rachelcarson.com website - she was "a born ecologist before that science was defined, and a writer who found that the natural world gave her something to write about. Born in Springdale, Pennsylvania, upstream from the industrial behemoth of Pittsburgh, she became a marine scientist working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC, primarily as a writer and editor. She was always aware of the impact that humans had on the natural world. Her first book, Under the Sea-Wind (1941) was a gripping account of the interactions of a sea bird, a fish and an eel -- who shared life in the open seas. A canny scholar working in government during World War II, Carson took advantage of the latest scientific material for her next book, The Sea Around Us (1951) which was nothing short of a biography of the sea. It became an international best-seller, raised the consciousness of a generation, and made Rachel Carson the trusted public voice of science in America. The Edge of the Sea (1955) brought Carson’s focus on the ecosystems of the eastern coast from Maine to Florida. All three books were physical explanations of life, all drenched with miracle of what happens to life in and near the sea. In her books on the sea Carson wrote about geologic discoveries from submarine technology and underwater research -- of how islands were formed, how currents change and merge, how temperature affects sea life, and how erosion impacts not just shore lines but salinity, fish populations, and tiny micro-organisms. Even in the 1950's, Carson’s ecological vision of the oceans shows her embrace of a larger environmental ethic which could lead to the sustainability of nature’s interactive and interdependent systems. Climate change, rising sea-levels, melting Arctic glaciers, collapsing bird and animal populations, crumbling geological faults -- all are part of Carson’s work. But how, she wondered, would the educated public be kept informed of these challenges to life itself? What was the public's "right to know"?"
For me at any rate, Misti’s work (Like Rachel Carson’s) and our conversation today reminds me to look up, look around, get out – familiarize myself with where I am, who lives here with me, to get my bearings in the greater landscape, to map my way, and then to embrace not just what is our right to know but what is our responsibility to see, to learn about, and to know?
Misti is a perfect example of one of us – as many of us do – who learns more through sharing – in her garden, on her trails, through her blogs and her podcast. I think this is true of many of us and falls under that powerful African American proverb of each one teach one – and many more of us learn when we all share our learning and loves on.
Which brings me to a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have shared your knowledge here, who share it in comments and stories with me, who share Cultivating Place as a both an ethos and radio program and podcast with others.
Recently Jesskuh2007 wrote this review on Itunes Apple Podcasts:
“I love listening while working in my garden. I actually save new episodes of Cultivating Place for garden time. Sometimes us serious backyard gardeners get so caught up in the never ending to-do list that suddenly it becomes stressful. So When I listen, Jennifer pulls me back into the true spirit of my endeavor. My purpose and place in this world, in my garden. And what an important endeavor it is both for my environment and place, and my own well being."
Damn. I love what I do. I am so grateful it resonates.
This person to person, garden to garden connection through time and space is how this program grows – so thank you!
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