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Good Oak News

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hiring Sustainable Landscapers and Ecological Restoration Managers

We're looking to hire a few good people here at Good Oak. We currently have our Sustainable Landscaping Manager and our Ecological Restoration Manager positions open, and I'm eager to accept applications from qualified candidates. We are also looking for a Seasonal Ecological Restoration/Sustainable Landscaping Technician.

The two manager jobs have a few things in common. They are both leadership rolls, with about 30% of the time spent in the office managing projects and 70% leading the crew in the field to get the job done. So candidates need to be good at managing time and juggling multiple projects at a time, all while leading by example during field work days. The benefit of this approach is that it allows the project manager to be sure the client's needs are met, and it also means they get to see the project through from vision to completion. We need people that are good with technology; iDevices, spreadsheets, etc. and good communicators who can clearly relay challenging conservation concepts to clients in an impactful way.

The positions differ in the kind of work they do.

For the Sustainable Landscape Manager, we're looking for someone with a horticultural background, particularly in residential and commercial landscaping. We want someone with the experience installing and maintaining trees, shrubs and perennials these sorts of landscapes. We work exclusively with native and edible plants because they have the greatest value to wildlife and humans. So we need someone with experience with these plants, or the ability to learn them. In particular we're hoping to find someone with a strong knowledge of edible plants since our current staff already knows quite a bit about landscaping with native plants. There also tends to be a lot of weed control in this work, and winters will be spent working hard outdoors with the brush clearing crew.

For the Ecological Restoration Manager we need someone with experience installing and maintaining prairies, clearing brush from woodlands and restoring them to health, stabilizing shorelines and controlling invasive weeds. Knowledge of safe and effective use of power tools, herbicides and prescribed fire is a must. Since brush clearing is such an important part of this work, they can expect to be doing this sort of work for the winter months each year, and we'd love to find someone with experience operating light machinery for those sites where brush mowing is the most cost effective option, or for other applications.

Over the past year and a half I've been having a hard time finding qualified candidates to fill these positions. So I'm now going to leave them open until filled rather than setting a deadline. We are willing to fill in some gaps with training for smart and motivated applicants who have most of the skills needed to handle these jobs, but these are leadership rolls, and we need people who can take on that leadership right away. Good Oak has grown a lot in the past 6 years that we've been in business, and frankly I need at least one, if not two people to take some of the project management responsibilities off of my shoulders (and to a lesser extent Athena Salzer, our recently promoted Project Manger's shoulders too).

We are also looking for a Seasonal Ecological Restoration/Sustainable Landscaping Technician, to start as soon as possible. This would be a good opportunity for more mid-level experienced people to apply.

If you're qualified and interested in these positions, feel free to send me a resume and brief cover letter (in the email itself is fine) at the email address on the job announcement. Because of my heavy workload right now, I will only respond to qualified candidates.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Isthmus Green Day Expo
Saturday April 26th, 2014
Monona Terrace - Madison, WI

Saving the Monarchs and Gardening for Pollinators @ 12:30pm

Join Good Oak in celebrating Earth Week at the Isthmus Green Day Expo! Frank Hassler, president/chief ecologist at Good Oak, will be speaking at 12:30pm about the importance of gardening with native plants to attract pollinators and the benefits it can have on our rapidly declining monarch butterfly populations.

We’ll also have a booth featuring all of the books and tools we currently sell at our online store! Come visit us, and many other great locally based sustainable businesses, as we welcome in spring.

For more information about the monarchs, check out our Save the Monarchs campaign, or visit for a ton of great up-to-date information.

A monarch butterfly gathers nectar from butterfly milkweed
in a small native perennial garden.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Good Oak Paving: Simpler, Easier, Smoother Natural Areas Management

Today, Good Oak is excited to announce our newest division, aimed at making natural areas management easy and affordable for everyone:
After nearly 20 years working outdoors for nature centers, forest preserves, national monuments, and many other natural areas, Frank Hassler, Good Oak's chief ecologist has determined that the most efficient answer to managing natural areas is the simplest one: just pave over it!
"Determining the best plan of action when faced with a degraded natural area can be a daunting task. Even the best experts don't always get the expected results. And the work, though rewarding, and critical to maintaining the biodiversity of our planet which creates the ecosystem services that sustain our lives and our society, is difficult. I have finally found a simple answer to each of our clients' unique and beautiful properties: just pave it!"
Our system is simple: First we come to your property to meet you for a detailed site visit where we analyze the natural areas or existing landscape on your property; we determine which invasive plants need control, where there are opportunities for new features in the landscape and which native plants are present and need preservation. Second, we pave over it! There is no step 3! It's that simple!
Before Good Oak Paving Services
After Good Oak Paving Services

Hear from just a few of our already satisfied customers: Bob in Verona:
"After attending a talk by Frank recently about planting a prairie, I realized this would be a complicated multi-step process, taking 4-6 years to complete, and costing up to $2000 per acre. Ugh! I was so relieved when we heard about the 'Paving Alternative'. We got the yard paved over last week, in just one day! And we saved dozens of dollars! Long term consequences to the web of life be damned!"
Sara in Middleton:
"Originally I wanted a rain garden to help reduce run-off into our lakes and provide butterfly habitat. But then I found out that I'd have to be careful to drive my lawnmower AROUND the rain garden, and I knew there had to be a better way. I'm so glad Good Oak helped me pave my yard instead! Now I can park wherever I want, and why should I care about my downstream neighbors anyway!"
Jim in Dodgeville:
"We used to have a prairie that was planted about 20 years ago. But we kept having to burn it every few years to maintain it, and once I had to go weed it and my thumb got pricked by a thistle! We just paved the prairie and I couldn't be happier. The thistles didn't have a chance! Ha! And no more pesky meadowlarks waking me up in the morning!"
Paving can solve any challenge in your landscape or natural area:
  • garlic mustard infestation?: pave over it!
  • poor grading around your home leading to basement flooding?: pave over it!
  • shoreline erosion?: pave over it!
  • woods suffering from oak decline?: pave over it!
  • landscape created by a classic American landscape architect in need of a refresh?: pave over it!
  • tired of hearing crickets at night?: pave over it!
 Good Oak Paving Services:
Paving over Paradise Since 2014

UPDATE: This is of course our April Fool's joke. Natural Areas Restoration and Sustainable Landscaping aren't easy, but they are worth it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Good Oak's Sustainable Garden Center: Now Online!

Good Oak's Sustainable Garden Center is now online, and we need your help!

Of course we need you to shop at our site. Right now we're offering a selection of high quality garden and weed management tools, and also great books on native plants, gardening for wildlife and more. Our goal at the moment is to offer books and tools that we regularly recommend our clients and people who attend my talks. This way you can find all the good stuff you need all in one place! A few of my favorites are:

Those are just a few of  the many great items we're offering. Check out the store to see what else we have.

So here's the part where we need your help. We need to know: what sustainable gardening/landscaping products do you want?

So far our tool selection focuses on high-quality items that you won't have to throw away... most will, in fact, last you a life time. What other tools and supplies would you like to buy? Are there things that its hard to find a good source for, or that you're always recommending to friends?

The books we offer are all very informative about native plants, weed control, landscaping with natives and for wildlife. Would you like to see more plant and animal identification books offered? More inspirational books from authors like E. O. Wilson or Michael Pollen? What about books on cultivating fruits trees and vines or organic vegetable gardening? What is your favorite book that teaches and inspires you in the garden?

Would you like to buy native plants online? Prairie seed mixes? Garden veggie seeds or starters?

Please let us know!

Our "doors" are now open for business. We hope to add a few more great products to our offerings before our "Grand Opening" in mid-March. Now through the end of March we're offering free local shipping on everything in our store, and we'll have some special deals for the Grand Opening too. In the mean time, get the word out, share with your friends. and Give us some feedback!

Learn. Teach. Share.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Garden Expo 2014!

On February 7-9th we will again be hosting a booth at the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo. As usual, we'll be available to share our knowledge of native plants, weed control and sustainable landscaping. We're also looking forward to talking with you about any projects you're hoping to start this year as winter gives way to spring (not as far off as it seems!)

You can find us at booth #324. We've got a few exciting additions to just the basic booth, such as:

Garden Center Debut:

This week we're launching our online Sustainable Garden Center. We're excited to be able to offer for sale many of the books and tools we recommend to our clients on a daily basis. We'll have all of our products for sale at our booth, and we'd love to tell you more about them. The website will be open for business by Friday for the start of the Expo for those of you who can't attend.

Presentation's by Frank:

Our fearless leader will be giving several talks about sustainable landscaping, including:
  • Planting a Prairie: Choose Your Own Adventure! on Friday at 6 pm in the Mendota 6-7 room
  • Gardening for Pollinators on Saturday at 10:45 am in the Mendota 4 room
  • Native Plants for Any Landscape on Sunday at 11:45am in the Mendota 3 room