Speaker Spotlight: Stacey Hirvela

by Cris Blackstone

Search Engine Optimization   or

            Stacey’s Experiences are Outstanding

Cruising through anyone’s Instagram tells a story – a story they crafted intentionally or a story you put in to the stream of photos because of your own experiences. In the case of Stacey Hirvela, that story could be overwhelming. As I scrolled through her #gardenstacey site, I was impressed with how her photos are shot with such honesty, telling the story her captions enhanced, but not taken over by the ways Instagram pics can be overthought and overworked. We learn a lot about Stacey – one of her top three favorite Proven Winners Color Choice Shrubs is the Ginger Wine Ninebark; or that she’s been busy digging and prepping a garden plot and showed a multileveled shot of bones, pottery shards and glass bits she found doing that work. And the Icelandic knit sweater! That was where I stopped and went back and saw more in the photos I skimmed over, where she showed handspun yarn for a different project she was tackling! She really drew me in with that shot of the sweater ready for blocking. Iceland=my favorite vacation place! There was a part of Stacey’s story I wanted to connect with besides everything we’ll learn during her webinar on “SEO Rising to the Top-Getting to the Top of Search Results” scheduled for February 24, 2 PM EST.

Stacey Hirvela brings this topic to us, with her strong interest in people being successful with gardening and accomplishing what they want to with their personal connections to gardening. As a child, she remembers picking lily-of-the-valley flowers in her grandmother’s yard. In her first garden, she learned a lot about pruning, or maybe better said, how NOT to prune, since her severe cutback of lavender plants in that garden never quite recovered from her attempt. She’s shared that story countless times, so people realize that to garden is to grow! Grow our knowledge, confidence and that if you find what you love to grow, you’ll explore that plant and be successful. “Passion is far more crucial than knowledge or experience,” is her driving statement shared with gardeners, especially key in becoming a life-long gardener.

And, now with this role as the marketing manager for Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs, Spring Meadows Nursery and GreatGardenPlants.com, Stacy brings her outstanding experiences to her art and craft of marketing plants. During this webinar, the focus is on how to gain traction with the gamesmanship of search engine algorithms, but the person behind this webinar sharing that knowledge has a complex algorithm built from working as a landscaper during her college years, where she earned her degree in Linguistics. Hands in the dirt, boots on the ground, and seeing firsthand this type of gardening and intensive schedule gives her the strength of conviction when she recommends a plant or when she’s taking photos of plant trials which need to show, realistically, what a plant looks like and what the plant’s performance means in the garden.

Maybe it was also the Linguistics degree which led her to other outstanding experiences, such as her Sirius radio program, “Homegrown.”  Her internship with Jeff Mendoza working on urban rooftop gardens, may have led her to continuing to cultivate dream jobs such as being a horticulturist for the Tavern on the Green in Manhattan. She now includes being able to work on large scale floral design work as a consultant for corporate events.

For the Garden Communicators audience, we have in Stacey Hirvela just about every aspect of garden communication work. Radio shows, content writing, horticulture for commercial clients, Rodale press author, and successful student in the NY Botanical Gardens Professional Horticulture Program along with marketing expertise AND the skills needed for internet search language – it’s tough to define Stacey succinctly.

She’s based in Western Michigan, but has a worldly sense of plants, gardens and the ways we can utilize the worldwide web’s ability to reach as many people as possible. With this webinar, you will learn what’s needed to get the results you want and your work deserves in a google search. Stacey says she will help “make sure your work doesn’t end up in the content graveyard.”

Want to learn more about SEO? Tune in to this podcast episode with Chris Sabbarese of Corona Tools and Stacey Hirvela as they discuss SEO strategies and website optimization.

One Easy Good-for-our-Planet Step toward Sustainability

By Judy Nauseef

The Nature Conservancy in its Everyday Sustainability Guide suggests eating more plant-based foods. For a gardener, this might be easy. But we have people in our lives–husbands, parents, kids, friends, and others–who believe that meat is required at every meal and that vegetables have no flavor. They tell us we must eat meat to meet our protein needs. More about this later.

Why eat vegetables? We know that reducing the fat in our diet improves our health. Vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Vegetables are also good for the earth. Most of us would like to contribute to protecting the environment and even slowing climate change. Growing and buying vegetables can help. Simon Hill writes, what we eat is “at the heart of our global climate struggle.” (from a special edition of the magazine Nourish, https://nourishmagazine.com.au/culture/) Plant-based foods include vegetables and grains and foods made from them. Usually they have a much lower carbon and water footprint than meat. Conventionally raising animals for food uses large resources of water and animal feed and produces great quantities of methane gas, adding to the greenhouse effect. Eating a plant-based diet is responsible for a lighter footprint. As individuals we can find ways to reduce our carbon footprints.

What is a carbon footprint? It refers to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from our activities. Plants also perform another function. They pull carbon dioxide out of the air. This is carbon sequestration, a process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form. Our landscapes of trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and gardens can do this and are called carbon sinks.

Like a glass greenhouse that traps the sun’s heat to create an environment for growing plants, certain molecules in the earth’s atmosphere absorb and trap the sun’s heat. These molecules are called greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect keeps the temperatures on our plant mild for living things. Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation and agricultural and land use have grown to the point where the excess heat produced cannot escape into the upper atmosphere. Our climate warms when the gases trap infrared radiation. These gases absorb and re-emit radiation, some of it returning to the earth’s surface and warming it.

Ok, let’s get to the fun part, cooking and eating vegetables as part of every meal. I am familiar with this. When I met my husband, he and I were meat eaters. His mother made a spaghetti sauce with sausage, chunks of beef, and meatballs. It was delicious. In my house, my mother made, meatloaf, meatballs, and roast and fried chicken. Sometime during the latter part of our kids’ elementary school years, he stopped eating meat, having lost a taste for it. My parents never truly reconciled our dining on vegetables alone and worried about the lack of protein in our diet. Tofu, tempeh, beans, and green leafy vegetables filled that gap.

About this time, we became serious gardeners and grew as many vegetables as we could. Our kids would not eat most vegetables at the table but loved standing in the garden eating sweet peas. Farmers’ markets became popular. Great vegetarian cookbooks appeared; we both cooked; and our food became tasty without meat. We have fallen off the wagon a little, me more than he, but still eat 95% plant-based foods at home. We have learned to cook delicious recipes with tofu and tempeh and found many unknown grains in the coop, now available in the grocery store. We still get plenty of protein. Peanut butter is a staple.

According to Project Drawdown (www.projectdrawdown.org), we can reduce the impacts of agriculture on the environment by reducing the amount of red meat we eat. This production uses more land and resources than does the growing of plant-based foods. Cutting consumption of meat can help address climate change. The sustainability of a plant-based diet includes the actions of choosing minimally processed, locally grown products, and of growing vegetables at home.

Judy Nauseef is a freelance writer and garden designer. She writes about her interests in sustainability and native plants in the book, Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest:  Bringing the Tallgrass Prairie Home. Learn more about Judy and read her blog at https://judynauseef.com.