Breeze Gabrielson joined the Whidbey Institute team as our Westgarden Intern this summer, and in that role she helps with the huge job of maintaining and improving the Westgarden. Breeze is currently focused on learning more about medicinal plants alongside Westgarden Steward Jules LeDrew, with the goal of incorporating the healing power of plants into her own life in order to help others do the same.
Breeze was new to Whidbey when she responded to a post on Drewslist about our annual Volunteer Days, and her volunteerism during that July weekend was her introduction to the Whidbey Institute community. She helped Jules in the garden and Rob on the trails in the ensuing months, as well as forming a friendship with Volunteer Coordinator Marta. Now, Breeze lives on Marta’s property and has the “super-volunteer” role of Westgarden Intern. She says she’s not sure where her long-term future will take her, but for now she’s enjoying putting down roots—literally and figuratively—on Whidbey Island. After spending a while wandering, Breeze finds herself collecting plants and growing friendships here.
“More people helping in the forest, where the Steward has 106 acres to handle—more people helping in the huge garden that Jules is tending—that would be beneficial for everyone.”
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science earned in Eugene, Breeze has a background in forest biology, botany, and ecology. In college, she found herself drawn to field-based classes that kept her outside in the landscapes she loves and fed her love for temperate rainforests and ecology. Her passion for the environment is both personal and professional, and she’s currently working on reducing waste and sourcing foods and products locally. “I’m cutting back on everything plastic, so I’ve basically been making all my own hummus, all my own krauts—I’m taking resiliency into my own hands, not sourcing products from other places.” At the root of these impulses lies Breeze’s passion for harmonious relationships: making sure everyone, and everything, is thriving.
“I love this place,” Breeze said. “I landed here and stayed in the Farmhouse, which provided a cozy welcome right from the start.” Breeze added that she appreciates the warmth and inclusiveness she experiences here, and that through the Whidbey Institute she has made nurturing connections.
When asked how the Whidbey Institute might shift to be more aligned with its purpose, Breeze points to the power of having more volunteers on the land. “More people helping in the forest, where the Land Steward, James, has 106 acres to handle—more people helping in the huge garden that Jules is tending—that would be beneficial for everyone.”
“I’m very grateful to be here,” Breeze said. “Last week Jules and I were making a tea blend for the staff—something to nourish everyone with all the plants we harvested from the garden. I’m a hands-on, tactile learner, so getting that experience alongside Jules was great. I’ve enjoyed the whole process, from harvesting marshmallow root last week to drinking tea today.”
Breeze shared that after a series of seasons in different gardens in the Eugene area, her time with the Westgarden has given her a place to stay, deepen, and connect. “Working a piece of land for a while, through several seasons, is exciting for me,” she said. “I get to look at it with my permaculture design eyes after getting to know it, and learning how to help. It takes time to see things, and to be able to work with the land.”
To meet Breeze, stop by the Westgarden any Monday or email [email protected] for an introduction.