Profile: Kirsten Saylor

Kirsten Saylor

Executive director of Gardening Matters

Whether you’re interested in starting your own garden, joining a community garden or other gardening-related issue, Gardening Matters has the information you need. The nonprofit organization is the evolution of GardenWorks, a partnership between three separate organizations devoted to local, sustainable agriculture. The transformation began with a sustainability plan written by Executive Director Kirsten Saylor that recommended a “clearinghouse of information” around all things related to sustainable agriculture.

For Saylor, the interest in local food was deeply personal. What started her interest in the topic, she says, was love. “I was in lousy health,” she says. “I was eating all the wrong foods, I wasn’t exercising. Then I met someone who inspired me to take better care of myself.”

Out of that drive for self-improvement came experience working on CSA farms and time working in Washington, D.C. for a sustainable agriculture funding program. While there, “I was constantly hearing and reading about projects that weren’t being adopted by farmers,” said Saylor. “That’s because they never involved the farmers in the research. “That’s when I decided to get my Masters in Applied Anthropology.”

After studying in Portland, Saylor returned home to Minneapolis and helped guide Gardening Matters through its rapid growth. The organization provides services such as a garden referral service that matches interested gardeners with community gardens, community leadership workshops and much more. If Gardening Matters doesn’t offer a particular service itself, the organization’s website can probably point you toward someone who does.

Asked what is driving the increased interest in local food, Saylor points to the public’s growing education on the subject. “The co-ops have been amazing leaders, as have the farmers,” said Saylor. “The easy answer is that we’ve had great spokespeople. Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, they’ve made the idea more … edible.”