Hello, I'm Katie!
I am a plant and ecology nerd. A longtime gardener, farmer, herbalist, horticulturalist and teacher. I use they/she pronouns.
I offer ecological garden consultations, coaching, classes and plant ID services in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
I've worked professionally with plants for over 17 years, with a special focus on medicinal and edible plants. I was the lead steward of Bastyr University's medicinal herb gardens & Sacred Seeds Ethnobotanical Trail for 4 years. I've taught for the University of Washington, Bastyr University, Tilth Alliance, and more. I know my stuff, and am forever a student.
We live in an extraordinary time of climate and cultural upheaval. More than ever, the earth needs all the "green thumbs" it can get. We need people who can identify plants, grow food & medicine and create flourishing ecosystems. We need you.
I marry my services with a background in rites of passage ceremony and trauma-informed facilitation. Gardening is a therapeutic act, enhancing our personal healing and major life thresholds. We heal through growing in relationship with something bigger than us. The earth heals through us.
I am here to water your "thumb of death" til it sprouts into bloom.
We need your thumb, no matter the shade.
Join me and become a greening thumb in the Tending Alive project!
photo: Chris Wade
What people say:
"Katie has spent time fostering an intimacy and knowingness with the land and plants that has taken years to grow, and she generously shares her knowledge and spirit with those willing to learn. She is a gifted teacher and brings such heart with each action and conversation she engages with."
- Casey Carr
I work with
new homeowners looking to identify plants and their care
herbalists looking to grow potent medicinals
I work with...
homeowners & renters wanting an ecological plan for their yard
herbalists and farmers wanting want to grow potent medicinals
anyone wanting to...
learn gardening basics
grow food and medicine
identify plants (wild and introduced)
create wildlife habitat and build soil health
develop a restoration strategy
find healing in the plant world
The Tending Alive project is a living question:
What is possible if all people return their hands to the soil and remember how to tend an ecosystem alive?
A garden is just one way back to closeness with the natural world.
To tend anything means to show up for mutual thriving. It requires presence and action. We heal through relationship, and tending is that regenerative force. No matter the path, it takes time to grow the relationships that make our ecosystems flourish.
This is a project to practice tending to plants and each other—in a time where climate and ecological catastrophe is real.
May we never forget that the earth is a verb. A process. With our hands, we can be an important part of our ecosystems flourishing.
Can we remember how?
photo: Emily Buffi
For me, it began with my grandparents. They grew up in the Nooksack river valley as subsistence farmers, and tended the 50 acre farm my great-grandparents bought when they emigrated from Germany.
The farm was a magical place of old cedar trees, a salmon-bearing creek and a big garden. A city kid, I had a big imagination but knew very little about what it actually meant to grow food or be in relationship with a place. I once tried to sow carrot seeds in a forest. But three times a year we came to visit and, no matter the age, we were participants. Harvesting, cow-feeding, firewood stacking, garden tending, foraging, preserve making... they held the rhythm with their patient hands. And in showing up, over and over, through the many seasons, I began to learn.
When I turned 16, I decided to work at a plant nursery. Over the next seven years I slowly began to learn botanical names and a wider world of plants beyond vegetables. I took home sick and orphaned plants. I started my own garden at home, growing carrots in the sun. I worked on organic farms all over the world and once, in college, learned about seeds & ecofeminism literally at Vandana Shiva's feet. Interestingly, I ended up a creative writing major.
Next came four years of fielding questions, teaching classes and mentoring community gardens as a Garden Hotline educator at Seattle Tilth (Tilth Alliance). It was here that I began to study wildcrafting and plant medicine with my colleagues and many local herbalists. I began growing my first medicinal plants and failed miserably. I had no idea when or how to harvest—I even dried my herb bundles on a clothesline in the sun! (Yikes.) But trying again and again, I found a rhythm.
In 2017, Bastyr University recruited me to be their Botanical Garden Supervisor.
For four years, I managed eight diverse gardens and a large greenhouse. I mentored students and oversaw all production, harvest and processing of medicinal and edible plants from all over the world. I also stewarded the Sacred Seeds Ethnobotanical Trail—a large scale restoration project spanning three biomes. I collaborated with the Advisory Committee, GRuB and local indigenous organizations to build community education on the Trail around native plants and cultural ecosystems in culturally respectful ways.
I left Bastyr to train in guiding land-based rites of passage with the School of Lost Borders, and to begin weaving together my passions into an even more dynamic embodiment of my gifts. That is, plants and ecosystems with undertones of ceremony, wildlife tracking, herbal medicine, ancestry, astrology, trauma healing and poetry. Thus, the Tending Alive project was born.
My grandparents have now passed on and the farm has been sold, but that rhythm still pulses in me. Over the last 17 years, I've helped thousands of people move through overwhelm to become more skilled and confident gardeners. I believe with the right support, we who have lost connection with land can remember our own beat. I am not any more of a plant expert than you can be.
I want to help you find your way.
PNW native plants
Organic & ecological methods
Plant identification & care
Wildlife & pollinator gardens
Training & Experience
Lecturer, L ARCH 423 "PNW Plant ID & Management" | University of Washington, Seattle - 2022
Botanical Garden Supervisor | Bastyr University - 2017-2021
Adjunct Faculty, "Horticultural Research & Grantwriting" | Bastyr University - 2018-2019
Garden Hotline Educator | Tilth Alliance / Seattle Tilth - 2014-2017
Grants Coordinator | Tilth Alliance / Seattle Tilth - 2016-2017
Organic Farm support | WWOOF Italy, England, Wales, New Zealand - 2008-2011
Nursery Worker | Sky Nursery - 2006-2014
Wildlife Tracking Intensive | Wilderness Awareness School - 2021-2022
Intermediate Herbal Course | Herbal Academy - 2019-present
Rite of Passage Guide Training (month-long) | School of Lost Borders - 2021
Antiracist Facilitator Training (6 month) | Holistic Resistance - 2020
Tend, Gather & Grow Teacher Training | GRuB, Wild Foods & Medicines program - 2019
"Herbal Medicine Making for All" (Crystal Hamby)| Bastyr University - 2019
"Myth, Ritual & Health" (Dr. Brad Lichtenstein) | Bastyr University - 2019
Deep Dives (various) | Holistic Resistance - 2018-2021
including: Trauma Tracking, Holding Black Stories, Judgment, Birthing the Question.
"Herbal Science Materia Medica" (Dr. Sheila Kingsbury) | Bastyr University - 2018
Art of Mentoring | Wilderness Awareness School - 2018
Advanced Bird Language | Wilderness Awareness School - 2018
Trauma Aware Conflict Resolution | The Village School - 2016
Wildcrafting and Plant Medicine Apprenticeship | Cedar Mountain Herb School - 2013-2014
B.A. English + Creative Writing | University of Washington Seattle - 2011
I have also attended many Tilth Conferences, American Herbalist Guild Symposiums, Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Symposiums, and numerous local and regional herbal medicine conferences from 2014 to present.
Growing up with subsistence-farming grandparents.
Caring for vegetable gardens, fruit trees, berries and a forest at my childhood home.
Farm club and various organic farming stints when attending Colorado College.
Creating & tending gardens—quite unavoidably—at every home I've rented.
Herbal medicine making at home for over 8 years.
Personal trauma healing work (including EMDR therapy) in different iterations for 9 years.
Uncountable years of amateur bird-obsessing.
I hail from European middle and working class settlers, including German farmers and Welsh musicians. I currently live on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish people, within the web of relations they still tend to this day.
Most of my native plant and permaculture knowledge comes through the legacy of colonizing systems that stole lifeways from First People. I hold it close to my heart that within Coast Salish and other indigenous communities plant knowledge is a high honor to be trusted with, and in modern Western culture it is not. I will never know the whole story. I aspire to teach about regenerative land-human relationships with humility and integrity. I am always learning and welcome feedback.
My teachers are first and foremost the plants themselves. I also offer my gratitude to the many humans who have generously shared their knowledge and mentorship along the way, personally or in books, including:
Suzanne Tabert, Dr. Sheila Kingsbury, Crystal Hamby, Dr. Jenn Dazey, Laura Matter, Lisa Taylor, Sue Hartman, Valerie Segrest, Michael Evans (didahalqid), Mariana Harvey, Elise Krohn, Vandana Shiva, Leah Penniman, Rowan White, Nancy J. Turner, Thomas J. Elpel, Rosemary Gladstar, Michael Moore, Scott Kloos, Jessi Bloom, Michael Pilarski, Mario Gala, Isa de Caria, Hugh Taylor, Laura Freddi, my grandparents, the entire Tilth community, the staff of Sky Nursery ...and many more.
I especially lift up the Native wisdom keepers who contributed toward the Tend, Gather & Grow project, as it has profoundly influenced my relationship to native plants and ecosystems. Elise Krohn and Mariana Harvey as well for weaving it together and mentoring me.
In the realms of embodiment, antiracism, multi-species futures, wildlife tracking and trauma healing, I bow my head and heart to the following personal + book-form teachers and mentors:
Donna Haraway, Aaron Johnson, Porsha Beed, Camille Johnson, Pinar & So Sinopoulous-Lloyd, Prentis Hemphill, Staci K. Haines, Resmaa Menakem, bell hooks, adrienne maree brown, Bayo Akomolafe, Joanna Macy, Betty Martin, Kristin Neff, Erin Long,
Adam Martin, Mark Kang O'Higgins, David Moskowitz, Angeline Johnston, Glenn Tousignant, all the poets, and seaweed.
I am finding my way in the rites of passage world. The conversation is complex within the colonial context, where wilderness is romanticized and objectified. Ceremonies can be carried out without fully hearing the land's story—including that of the First People. Both are true: intimacy with land is key to all of our healing, and systems of supremacy can be upheld and enjuiced here too. No way is perfect. That said, many practices are foundational threads in my own story, which has unfolded through my teachers, friends and mentors:
Pinar & So Sinopoulous-Lloyd, Meredith Little, Anne Hayden, Sheila Belanger, Betsy Perluss, Joseph "Angelo" Lazenka, Gigi Wickwire, Laura Gunion, Mary Marsden, Nate Bacon, Geneen Marie Haugen, Bill Plotkin, Petra Lentz-Snow, Cameron Withey and the many ecosystems that have held me in my life and in ceremony.
I lastly thank my ancestors for their guidance and song, which endlessly bubbles from the blue waters of the world.