Called to the garden

Green Animals horticulturalist is sharing her infectious love of gardening with the community

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 11/29/17

Sometimes, you are lucky enough to just know when something is right.For Patricia Bailey, a Boston native who spent two decades as an advertising and marketing executive in the San Francisco Bay …

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Called to the garden

Green Animals horticulturalist is sharing her infectious love of gardening with the community

Posted

Sometimes, you are lucky enough to just know when something is right.

For Patricia Bailey, a Boston native who spent two decades as an advertising and marketing executive in the San Francisco Bay area, that time came a handful of years ago when she decided to move to Rhode Island to be closer to family.

The geographical transition seemed like a logical time to make a clean break with the corporate world.

She wanted to garden.

"I've been gardening all my life," she said. "I grew up in an Italian and Portuguese family, and gardening has always been something we did. For me, it was always a hobby, but this seemed like a good time to go all in."

Patricia started to volunteer at Blithewold, where longtime Director of Horticulture Julie Morris took her under her wing. "I was a deadheader!" said Patricia — a designation that will be familiar to anyone who has volunteered to help maintain Blithewold's gardens.

During this time, Patricia also furthered her education, enrolling in a horticultural therapy program that brought her to gardens throughout the U.S., from Walnut Creek, CA to Cheyenne, WY, to North Carolina. In 2011, Morris told Patricia about an opening at Green Animals, where she began as a seasonal gardener and quickly rose to the position of Community Outreach Horticulturalist, where she first had the opportunity to launch a horticultural therapy program with Lucy's Hearth, a transitional shelter for women and children.

While that program is currently dormant, Patricia has been managing Green Animals' vegetable gardens since 2013, and in 2015 she launched a garden-based curriculum based on pioneering chef Alice Waters' (of Berkeley's Chez Panisse) successful Edible Garden program. To date, the Edible Garden program at Green Animals has already served over 560 Aquidneck Island students in grades K through 12.

In addition, Green Animals donates all the produce from their gardens to Lucy's Hearth and the Martin Luther King food pantry in Newport, impacting over 3000 families.

Her passion for her work is evident. "I always felt like I was meant to do this," she said. "And I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a second career doing what I love."

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