Meet Monica

I believe plants are powerful and homegrown food tastes better. I’m obsessed with growing things, love the outdoors, and hope to inspire others to start their own gardens so they can grow some of their own food. When I’m not in my garden, you’ll probably find me on a trail deep in the trees with my dogs.


Even though I grew up around gardeners, I didn’t discover my passion for gardening until about 10 years ago, when my husband started our first little herb and veggie garden.  It was so fun to harvest mint for our water and eat our own lettuce and tomatoes in salads.  Suddenly, gardening was interesting to me and I started to venture out and grow a few more things each year.


Our first veggie garden


At the same time, I was reading books that talked about how our modern food industry was making our food unhealthy and then ultimately hurting our health.  As my knowledge of the food industry grew, and as my health improved because of my new knowledge, so did my desire to grow more of our own food.


A few years later, we partnered with a couple of other people in opening our own hydroponics shop. I was the partner who knew the least about gardening when we started. I was there for the paperwork side of the business, so I learned most of what I know about gardening on the job. My partners and customers taught me so much. For 5 1/2 years, I talked about the science of gardening with very intelligent, experienced growers every single day, while also studying on my own and working in my own gardens.


I sat behind this counter in our hydroponics shop for 5 1/2 years, learning about gardening and talking to growers.


It was my customers who brought me my first jar of homemade pickles and got me interested in canning. It was my customers who taught me natural pest control methods, and how to use willow trees to create my own rooting hormones.  So many of the tricks I have in my arsenal come from my customers and I’ll always be grateful for my time at our shop.


During those years, I became a pro at container gardening, hydroponics, and indoor gardening. I learned about plant nutrition, beneficial microbes, how the environment affects plant growth, and how to set up a variety of growing systems.


I also started writing a monthly gardening column for our local paper, and contributing articles to Maximum Yield Magazine.  I have been carrying around notebooks and writing stories since the first grade, and was thrilled to finally be published and writing about my passion.


Then I discovered Back to Eden gardening.  It completely flipped my gardening paradigm upside down.  Because I had studied the science of gardening for years, I immediately understood how right this method was on a scientific level, and how it made so much more sense than everything else I had been taught up until that point.  It wasn’t that what I knew was wrong, but the Back to Eden method made everything so much easier and less expensive.  Instead of trying to control nature, Back to Eden gardening taught me how to work with nature.


Paul Gautschi, the gardener who teaches this method, only lived about three hours away from me at the time, and gives tours of his garden every Sunday.  I decided to visit his garden and see if the hype was real.  That visit sealed the deal for me and I was officially hooked.


The fruits and vegetables he grew were unlike anything I had ever tasted before.  They were so sweet and juicy.  Their flavor was beyond anything I had tasted at the grocery store, or even from my own garden or my customers’ gardens.  Here was a man who was physically limited taking care of a garden that was larger than my house while I was working myself to the bone taking care of gardens a fraction of the size.  He caught my attention in a profound way.


When I got home, I re-watched the documentary about him and his garden a few more times, along with all the youtube videos about him that I could find, and then set to work creating my own Back to Eden garden.  My first plot was pretty small, maybe 8 feet x 10 feet, but it was mighty.  There was no tilling, no fertilizing, no watering, weeds were easy to pull, the soil was black gold, and the harvest was massive!  Once I saw the success of that garden, my dream for our own property with a huge garden was born.


Early in the season of my first Back to Eden garden.  I even mulched my container plants with woodchips.


By the end of summer, my garden had exploded into this without ever watering or fertilizing!


I dreamed about our property for five years.  I drew diagrams and made a vision board.  My husband and I worked diligently to build our credit and save for a down payment.  We were relentless about searching for properties.  But for 5 years, we could not find the one that was right for us.  They were all either too big, too small, too expensive, or in a bad area.  Nothing fit what we wanted.


That was ok because we were busy building our businesses anyway.  As time passed, we not only owned our hydroponics shop, but we also opened a glass shop and a medical marijuana dispensary.  We were living in the Wild West years of cannabis in Washington State, when medical marijuana was mostly legal for medical patients, but not yet available to everyone.  They were amazing years.  The industry was what is should be.  It was run by people who knew what they were doing and actually cared about the patients who were suffering.


I watched patients cure their cancer with Rick Simpson oil, kids with multiple daily seizures reduce their seizures to monthly occurrences, and people who were once considered criminals build successful businesses.  When we were in the worst part of the opioid epidemic, I was watching people reduce their pain meds because their pain was being successfully treated with cannabis-infused topicals and edibles.  Cannabis was helping people with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, and glaucoma.  Cancer centers were sending their patients to us.  It was an incredible moment in history.


But all good things must end, and the government will never sit by and watch an industry grow without taking their piece of the pie.  Initiative 502 passed and legalized marijuana in Washington State.  In the process, the government completely changed the rules of the game.  They shut down all of the medical marijuana dispensaries, including ours, limited the number of marijuana businesses that could open, massively taxed businesses at every level of production, took away our right to discuss the medical benefits of cannabis, and made it next to impossible for the people who created the industry to continue.  In order to play, you had to be backed by millions of dollars.  That wasn’t us.


In the same month that we received a letter telling us to shut down our dispensary, we also got a letter from our landlords telling us they wanted to sell their house and would need us out in 30 days.  We had lived in that house for 11 years.  The life that we had worked so hard to build was crumbling down around us.  It was a hard time.  We were under a lot of pressure were doing our best to do what we thought was right at every turn.


We prayed a lot during this time and God heard our prayers.  After looking for our perfect property for over five years, we found it in that 30 day window.  It was the perfect house with the perfect amount of land in the perfect place and at the perfect price.  And it was right next to the river where my husband was already building his fishing guide business, Rip Some Lips Guide Service.


In that VERY short window of time, we bought our new home, found a buyer for our hydro shop, were able to shut down the dispensary and move out of the building, and pack up our house to move.  There is absolutely no way that we were smart enough to come up with such a perfectly-timed, perfectly-executed plan like this one.  That was all God’s design.  He has given us so much and we are so grateful.  We give all the credit for this wonderful life to Him.


Home Sweet Homestead


In the summer of 2016, we moved into our new home and left our old life behind.  We have spent the last few years building up our homestead and business.  I’ve continued to write articles about gardening while working on all of the projects around our property.  We are constantly learning new skills and challenging ourselves beyond our limits.  There have been successes and failures.  It has been extremely difficult, but also very rewarding and fulfilling.  We love it.  We love this lifestyle.  We love the hard work.  We love looking back on a job well done after completing a project.  We are stronger and healthier than we have ever been–mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Our quality of life is high.


Our Back to Eden Food Forest — my favorite place to be.


All of those years that I spent dreaming about this life were not wasted.  Those dreams have become a reality and now I want to spend my time enjoying this life we’ve been given, continuing to work hard on our homestead, and teaching others how to create this kind of life for themselves.


  • Learn more about The Nature Life Project here.
  • Read more about our homestead here.