Rachel Freifelder grew up with her father’s abundant organic garden in eastern Massachusetts. She holds degrees in ecology and environmental science from Stanford University and UC Berkeley, and studied agricultural ecology at UC Davis and herbology at the Pacific School of Botanical Medicine. She apprenticed on two working farms and left the university world to join in the founding of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, an intentional community in rural Missouri.
Rachel first became a garden educator through giving tours and coordinating volunteers at Dancing Rabbit. She returned to city life for the purpose of integrating social justice work with sustainable living, and has taught garden skills to both adult and younger neighbors in various schools and urban neighborhoods. Since settling in Portland’s Cully neighborhood in 2007, Rachel has been the garden educator at Rigler K-8 School and works with a neighborhood group, the Green Rigler Project, to maintain and improve the school’s garden and other outdoor spaces. Rachel offers garden services, consultations and more classes as Handmade Gardens Edible and Native Organic Land Care.
Since 2007, Rachel and her partner, Robert, have been developing an organic mini-farm on a 9000-square foot lot in the Cully neighborhood. They have combined their shared experience in agriculture, ecology and forestry to manage the land for demonstration, teaching and subsistence. It incorporates fruit trees, honeybees, domestic ducks, abundant vegetable beds, medicinal plants and Pacific Northwest natives. Various soil-building techniques are visible, including aerobic composting, cover crops, sheet mulching and on-site animal manures.