written by Melissa Dalton | photos courtesy of Ian Wilson
Ian Wilson hadn’t planned on finding his career path in a Vermont apple orchard. He was just there to help out with the harvest and catch a break from his job as a wilderness therapy guide for teenagers. “I’d been doing such challenging work that was very cerebral,” Wilson said.
At the orchard, he found joy in the tangible labor of picking apples and packing crates. “It just really resonated with me in a way that other work I’d done had not,” Wilson said.
That harvest led him on a ten-year path to gain more gardening experience. He worked on organic farms in South America and Hawaii; he completed a farm apprenticeship program in Santa Cruz.
By 2011, he managed a community supported agriculture group in Portland when he made a new discovery working the farmers’ markets. “I saw a lot of people that didn’t have resources for support at home to grow their own food,” he said.
In 2014, Wilson started Portland Edible Gardens as a means for mentoring aspiring home gardeners.
Wilson scales his services according to customer needs. “The goal is to meet each person where they’re at,” he said. That means he might draw up a personalized seasonal site plan for their yard, build raised beds and plant the first crop or set up regular home visits.
The best part of his work these days, he said, is seeing people’s delight as they harvest produce from their own backyard: “They just light up.”