Woman of Substance

MOTHERS OF NATURE

Growing up in rural Texas, Jill Oliver was exposed to gardening from an early age. The daughter of a pecan farmer, she helped pick strawberries and peaches from the family garden, and still recalls the pleasures of biting into a homegrown tomato or digging into a meal made with freshly picked herbs. “No other hobby gives back to you like gardening does,” she marvels. “I wanted to share that passion with others.”

After building a career as a speech-language pathologist, she took time out to raise her three children, then decided to return to the workforce doing what she loved most. She landed a job at a garden design and installation company in Houston, where she met Nicole Shah and Jen McDonald. Self-taught gardeners like Oliver, the three women turned to gardening, all having pursued other careers, and shared a commitment to growing their own food. Reasoning that others might enjoy it, as well, the trio launched Garden Girls, which specializes in creating turnkey organic raised-bed kitchen gardens.

“What makes us different is that we do the complete design and installation, but we also come back and do education with the clients,” McDonald says. “We’re not just installing a garden and walking away—we want to teach people to become confident gardeners.”

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PRODUCED BY SHANNON BOWERS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRETT WOOD
WRITTEN BY FRED ALBERT

This story appeared in the Summer 2024 issue of MILIEU.