About Us

Sustainable. We’re used to hearing the concept applied to big systems, like entire cities or countries or international efforts. Our goal is to help people incorporate sustainability into very small systems: their own immediate surroundings. Our homes and landscapes are places where we can make better choices that make a positive difference for ourselves and our communities.

But none of us can do it alone.

We can help you implement sustainable choices in your home construction and renovation projects, and in your landscape improvements. We can help you increase your knowledge about growing your own food, even if you don’t always have time to do the hands-on work yourself. We can help you learn about the available options, and discover ways you can make things just a little bit right-er.

Our mission is to help people create better relationships with their natural and built environments. We can help you rebuild your connection to the world around you, and make your corner of the world more whole.

Sustainable spaces: bringing people home.




Karen was born and raised in PDX’s West Slope neighborhood; she grew up with her nose usually in a book (and, more relevantly, helping out with her parents’ small businesses). Karen attended Princeton University, where she earned her BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies in 2006. She re-settled in Portland shortly thereafter, and in 2008 received her MA in Educational Leadership at Portland State University, with a specialization in Leadership in Ecology, Culture, and Learning.

Karen is certified in Permaculture Design, and is proud of her role instigating various community projects, like the Oregon School Garden Summit. She sees Independence Gardens as a prime opportunity to connect to and strengthen relationships with individuals and organizations in the greater Portland area, and gets more excited about the transformational potential of organic land care every day.




Isabel grew up in Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood, working in the garden with her Master Gardener mom—that is, when she wasn’t playing sports or just being outside. She joined Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (MCSO-SAR) at age 14, and every year since then has dedicated around 550 hours a year volunteering her time to support the community.

Isabel, who remembers always being aware of the importance of the connections between things—especially between the natural world and human well-being—is currently working as the Environmental Education Coordinator for Tualatin Riverkeepers and pursuing a degree in School Health Education with a minor in Native American Studies at PSU. She is a Master Gardener, and believes that gardening fosters connections between people and plants, and that it remains a wonderful way to share her knowledge and help people help themselves.



Project Manager

Lead Builder

Tygh earned his first degree in Building Construction Technology and is currently pursuing a second degree in Operations Management. In addition to building garden infrastructure with Independence Gardens (and keeping our spirits up, while he’s at it!), he has helped us spearhead our residential construction work.

Tygh was a cadet with Portland Police, and volunteered for several years with Karen & Isabel through Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. He was born in North Carolina and raised in Troutdale, where he currently lives.



Project Manager

Garden Guide

Megan graduated with a BS in Community Development from Portland State University, with honors, and is a certified Master Gardener through the Oregon State​ University Extension Program​.​ She has attended workshops covering Mason bee care, plant propagation, advanced gardening, and worked as a co-lead hands-on with watershed improvement project field days at public schools​. This year she will be consulting and coaching at the Stormwater Challenge Workshops. She currently volunteers with Multnomah Chapter Master Gardener Phone Bank​, National Night Out and Soldier’s Angel’s.



Logistics Coordinator

Jesse, originally a native Clevelander, decided to travel west in 2013 to find a new place to call home. He arrived in Portland later that year, and started volunteering with Friends of Nadaka and Outgrowing Hunger in his search for new contacts in the sustainability and food justice niche of Portland. He was introduced to Independence Gardens in early 2014 and has been lending his calm demeanor and diverse skills to the company ever since.



Job Buddy

Rey found Karen & Isabel in March 2013, and he rapidly became one of the most frequently seen team members on our job sites. He is kind to young people, other animals, and every other creature we’ve seen him interact with. Even though he usually hangs out in the truck while we’re working, he still manages to make life a little happier!


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