Solving Global Problems with the Spirit and Science of Gardening

Kareen Erbe

Kareen Erbe founded Broken Ground to promote permaculture.

When Kareen Erbe needed to be for, rather than against, something, she started a garden. Implementing what she had studied about permaculture, a systems approach to sustainable living, her organic gardening efforts grew—and bore fruit. Her company Broken Ground offers workshops, online videos, and design and consulting services particularly focused on cold-climate organic gardening. LEARN MORE ABOUT BROKEN GROUND Her company’s About page makes even me, a daunted amateur when it comes to dirt, feel hopeful. When I asked how she came to write this delightfully personal view of her professional trajectory, she said first she had described certifications and experiences that made her expertise credible. But after a year, she realized “people want to know why you’re doing what you’re doing.” While many people may offer to coach about growing plants, her journey and reasons for doing what she does are distinctive. So she hid the degrees under a button saying “Click here for Professional Bio” and started over. She now tells a story that includes international travels, her mom, and a deepening view of resilience.

An authentic story has a powerful effect on readers and potential customers.  Because Kareen revealed herself so engagingly, I wanted to be my most candid self with her, including confessing my feelings of incompetence that I’d let my tomato seedlings die this spring. Gardening “pushes our buttons,” she said, smiling.  It reveals us to ourselves–a little uncomfortable temporarily, but useful.  And the ground is ultimately forgiving, working patiently with whatever we offer it. BROKEN GROUND ONLINE Kareen said she found Marie Forleo’s B-School helpful in clarifying what makes her approach and goals unique. Now four years into her business, her plans include multiplying the ways her ¾-acre home-plot serves as a resource to demonstrate permaculture principles and developing online courses to more systematically support gardeners at all skill levels.