Hi! I'm Crystal-
I launched Rust Belt Natives in January 2021 as a way to bring native plant gardening closer to urban gardeners. Inspired by growing up on farmland, and spending plenty of time gardening and foraging in the woods, I'm a self-proclaimed hippie and earth enthusiast.
My knowledge of gardening comes from years of experience in the home garden with my grandparents, studying ecology with the Army Corps of Engineers student Eco-Meet for 7 years, and in recent years volunteering at Beechwood Farms in the native plant nursery. I'm also a voracious reader and closely follow the research of Doug Tallamy.
My goal is to provide straight species native plants to gardens, parks, and restoration projects in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. RBN plants are grown at the Hazelwood nursery with seeds from mother plants raised from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania's Beechwood Nature Store and from my family's farm in Clearfield County. The seeds are hand collected, sown in organic soil, and grown outdoors without the use of fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides. Seeds and larger trees and shrubs that I cannot yet procure at these sites are purchased from neonicotinoid-free suppliers and used to produce the next generation of mother plants, ensuring that seeds of future inventory will also be locally grown. It is important to me that my buyers have success with their plants. All of these growing practices help to ensure a strong start for RBN plants so that as a network of gardeners we can expand the area of backyard habitats.