This humble enterprise semi-officially began as kitchen-table family business in 2015. Leaving behind a tiny, sweltering house in the big city, we had aspirations of planting a cider orchard of archaic French and Spanish apple varieties. As it turned out, the only land we could afford was an abused sheep pasture that stays flooded all winter and is periodically barraged by noisy navy jets. Despite this, we bought the place anyway and planted the orchard.
Early on in the venture, an odd little corner of the farm, away from the new apple trees (and the deer that menace them), began to capture our attention. Although we first seriously inspected the area in mid-winter, the vegetation was clearly different from the dominant pasture grasses elsewhere on the farm. Rather than grass, it was tangle of dry wildflower seed pods and lumpy ground. That following spring, we saw it bloom. By some random cosmic fortune, this little odd space, had somehow escaped the plow, the sheep, and the ugly vacation houses that surround us on all sides. It revealed itself cloaked in columbine and hedgenettle and triteleia and a collection of other treasures.
We knew immediately what we were looking at, as one of us was already gainfully employed in a conservation job with a great organization that does large-scale native plant restoration. Before long we were collecting the small beautiful seeds of these plants, propagating them and replanting them across the farm. Soon other people in the area asked us to help them make their own meadows. This meadow-making (we call it meadowscaping or meadowcraft) turned out to be a cornerstone of our initial work – creating giant art projects in public and private spaces that support wildlife and make the world more beautiful and better to live in.
For several years, actual seed sales were mostly a byproduct of that meadow creation work, an attempt to share whatever we didn’t end up planting ourselves with a wider audience. Now, recognizing that many other people love these plants as much as we do, we’ve been shifting our focus more to distributing seed to as many people as possible. In particular we’re now looking for ways to help people access increasingly rare, unusual, and important conservation plants. We've also been casting a wider net to source these materials – building a supply chain that we hope will someday help re-cover and restore our entire region with these valuable and amazing plants. There’s a lot of stress and hardship in the world, and meadows are a logical and completely sensible response to it all. At least it’s our response.
Mari Lee-Mäder, Owner
A child of the Northwest and Japan, Mari had prior careers as a working artist, as well as jobs in the premium craft paper industry, and a stint with Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. She somehow manages all of this.
Eric Lee-Mäder, Professional Services Specialist (and Apple-Tree Planter, Hedge-Cutter, Bee Watcher)
With a background in commercial horticulture and the nursery industry, Eric is employed at the excellent Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation where he co-directs pollinator conservation efforts, focusing on large-scale habitat restoration for bees on farms across the U.S. and Canada. He plants meadows.
Our clients, customers, and partners include: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GGN Landscape Architecture, Bonneville Power, Seattle City Light, several regional tribal nations, numerous state and local conservation agencies, a few other brilliant seed producers and seed gatherers, plant-caretakers, DIY ecologists, and scores of individual people making their own meadows, and in the process, better places for all of us.
Northwest Meadowscapes is a woman and minority-owned small business.