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About Our Urban Garden Casual Team

We’ve assembled an expert team to help you reclaim the pleasures of non-city living within the confines of urban space.

Cindy Naas

My dad was the best gardener I have ever known. He gave me his love of growing roses but also of growing vegetables- enough to eat some and give some, as he liked to say. When I ended up living in the city, I still wanted to pass on my father’s legacy to my own children, and that is how my urban garden was started.

Currently I live downtown in the city and grow roses, alpine plants in a rockery, and have vegetables growing in pots and in corners of the other gardens. My gardening helpers include a bunch of cats, two collies and my four boys, aka The Four Horsemen. I love gardening with children. Many of my garden projects were suggested by the boys.

My butterfly garden attracts not only a large variety of butterfly species but a fair number of neighbourhood children, as well. The strawberry garden was a good idea, the wildlife pond is doing really well, but the child who wanted to grow a cow was, unfortunately, sadly disappointed by my lack of enthusiasm. I’m really looking forward to getting to know you and answering your questions here at Urban Garden Casual.

Michael Nolan, UrbanGardenCasual.comMichael Nolan

I’m the oddball cousin you never want to introduce your friends to, but I promise not to talk bad about you behind your back.

Any good southerner knows to wait until you’ve left the room first! My posts here at UGC will be all over the board, much like my own life. When life gave me lemons, I sprinkled in some fresh rosemary, grabbed my peppermill and made a killer lemon pepper chicken.

In all seriousness, I have been gardening all of my life; the only thing that has changed over the years has been the venue. From huge plots on my grandparents’ farm in Alabama to a few containers on my terrace in New York City, I have always found a way to grow my favorite vegetables and herbs no matter where I happened to be at the time.

I have a love for food in a variety of forms. For over a decade I was a devout vegetarian and have spent time as both a vegan and a raw foods diet follower. I spent several months in a Buddhist monastery where I learned less about cooking than I did about appreciating the food as an integral part of the circle of life.

I am a very social person and I am always happy to answer any questions you might have, so speak up and remember — there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. [Oh yeah, feel free to visit me at my blog, Michael Writes.]

Vanessa Richins,

Vanessa Richins

No matter where you’re living, there’s always gardening that can done.

In college,I earned a Bachelors in Horticulture, with an emphasis on Landscape and Urban Horticulture. I’ve worked at a nursery, on a grounds crew, for a water conservation demo garden, and I currently teach garden classes for community education. I’m also getting my Master Gardener certification for fun.

I’ve lived in some pretty small places, but I managed to garden anyways. My tiny, cramped dorm room at least had an amaryllis plant. I’ve grown papyrus indoors in buckets. Mangroves inside my aquarium certainly were an adventure. I’d leave potatoes and sweet potatoes on the windowsill after they had started sprouting, just to have some greenery. Strawberry pots are wonderful, wonderful things.

Many vegetables can be grown indoors with proper heat and lighting, and containers make it possible for a patio garden. I even saw a garden once where they had simply covered the whole patio with soil. Square foot gardening can help you maximize small outdoor plots. There are just so many ways you can work around a lack of land! I look forward to helping you find ways to do just that through writing here on Urban Garden Casual.

mindarMindy McIntosh-Shetter

Presently I am living a life or a soon-to-be-empty nester of two 19-year olds. My time is spent milking out as much as I can on my 1/5 acre with my husband, son, daughter, rabbit Rufus, and a soft-shell turtle Joshua.

I am also finishing up my Masters in Environmental Education, Urban Planning, and Public Health from the University of Louisville. Hopefully I will have this completed by December 2011.

While I am a newcomer to blogging, today I blog for Tomato Casual, Urban Garden Casual, and Suit101 During my blogging career I have also blogged as a ghostwriter for

My credentials are wide spread and consist of a Bachelor in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, chemistry, and natural resources from Purdue University. This degree led me into a teaching career that span 7 years in Louisville, Kentucky. I taught 125+ students a year in aspects of agriculture that ranged from raising paddlefish, and tilapia to greenhouse management in an urban setting. But due to budget cuts my program closed down but my teaching agriculture has continued.

I presently volunteer my services in my community and teach “square foot gardening” to a group of individuals new to the concept of recession gardening in a subdivision. I am also spreading my agriculture knowledge by creating my own blog that showcases Mindar the gardening gnome.

Mindar can be found visiting gardens, doing how-tos, and generally teaching what she loves that is agriculture. So look Mindar the gardening gnome up if you have any questions about gardening, science or agriculture. Who knows you may see Mindar the gardening gnome (Mindy McIntosh-Shetter) at a garden near you.

Reggie Loves Tomatoes

Reggie Solomon (a.k.a, “reggieCasual”)

Perhaps I should have been a farmer.

(I may still grow grapes and make wine one day).

My mother and father are both from farming families in Mississippi where farming was the way of life.

I can still remember the treat of chewing fresh sugar cane grown on my grandfather’s farm as a small boy — a pleasure I still connect with today whenever I’m served a frozen sugar cane stick with a summer mojito.

Urban gardening is my modern farming legacy.

In rural Georgia where I grew up, I always kept a backyard garden (I rocked casual gardening as a kid too apparently from the photo below), but eventually lost touch with gardening during my college, grad school and early working years. Young Pre-Urban Garden Reggie Solomon

Fortunately, I rediscovered gardening but this time I’m in the city — New Haven, Connecticut where I work at my alma mater, Yale University.

Gardening in my urban backyard one block away from the intersection of interstate highways I-95 and I-91 bordering New Haven’s downtown is a “wee bit” different from rural gardening.

Urban Garden Casual is my attempt to bridge the worlds of traditional gardening with the challenges and opportunities of urban gardening while keeping things fun and casual.

So, shed your work clothes, pick up your iPod, and join our Urban Garden Casual team on a journey through the world of gardening done urban, gardening done casual.

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