June 16, 1953 - December 10, 2017
January began growing food in the mid-seventies at University of Michigan’s garden co-op. Lots of zucchini! Gardening became a lifelong love.
She attended Caitlin Bergman’s Permaculture Design Course in 2010. In 2011 she became a leader in visioning, designing and ultimately managing the Throop Learning Garden. She taught about companion planting; thus, the geraniums stayed with the tomatoes. And we learned crop rotations: fruits, leaves, legumes and roots. She was always pursuing more information on seed saving, composting, soil enrichment, pollinator attraction and critter abatement.
She had a particular interest in water, taking the Metropolitan Water District state tour to better understand drought and water conservation; thus, the water tank, French drain and swales. She was an artist at heart, designed many gardens, and taught her clients that native plants support pollinators for food gardens.
January freely shared her wisdom and energy. Her whistling while she worked instilled gardeners with the joy she felt while she gardened. She frequently recruited others for garden "capers," such as climbing over the chain link fence at Cal Tech (watched by the guard who didn’t have the right key for the gate) to get a close look at the olive tree they offered for the garden centerpiece. Another caper was moving that thousand pound tree into its place.
She arranged countless classes on garden-related topics, including Native People's use of local medicinal plants. Thus we have Yerba Santa, mugwort, milkweed and sages, as well as comfrey.
Her spiritual practice connected her to plants and the sense of oneness with all of earth’s delights. January found it easy to nestle into the mulch and lead us in a brief garden meditation before we dug in. She knew the ravens in the church tower were avatars of garden blessings.
A childhood friend says that from a very early age Jan was fascinated by hawks. On her final day in the garden, a Cooper’s hawk swooped in, settled into the apricot tree and looked down on her. She took its visit as a parting blessing.
This article first appeared in a newsletter published by Throop Church.