Today we bid farewell to longtime LBO gardener Ken Yliniemi, who will be moving back to his native Midwest.
Ken has been a member of LBO since 2003, when he joined our first garden downtown. Later that year, LBO acquired a lease on the green belt for the larger Wild Oats
When the Wild Oats Garden was closed for a storm drain project, then reopened as the Zaferia Junction Garden, Ken was again first in line to help with the building. He has taught all of us about cover cropping and the intricacies of growing the best sweet corn. He is an accomplished cook, and his homemade homegrown pickles are legendary. He was in charge of a charity bed for many years, where he organized growing produce for homeless shelters and food banks. He seems to always be in a positive mood, and his many years in the gardens have been drama free.
Ken is of Finnish descent and grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota. He attended the University of Minnesota and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture, a Masters of Agriculture in Plant Biology, and a Master Gardener Certification.
After graduation he spent a year interning in Finland growing cut flowers in the Gripans Greenhouse, outside of Helsinki.
Returning to the U.S., he took a job managing the greenhouse at the University of Chicago. While he loved the facility, he found that campus politics took the joy out of working with plants. He decided to move to California, settling in Los Angeles and later in Long Beach, working in the music industry and gardening for pleasure.
Ken says that what makes a job worth doing or an activity worth pursuing are the people involved, and with Long Beach Organic, he believes he has enjoyed the best of both worlds: gardening year round and meeting great people. The feeling is mutual.
Ken will be moving to Menahga Minnesota, a town of 500 which he describes as the place all Finnish farmers go to retire, to be near family. He will be arriving at the height of the spring planting season. We wish him well.