Organic Landscaping

Gardening Services

 Serving the Ann Arbor area since 2001

SERVICES

Consultation

Design

Installation

Landscaping Maintenance

 

ABOUT

ABOUT US

Nature and Nurture LLC is a locally owned organic gardening business by Erica Kempter and Mike Levine. Nature and Nurture is licensed and insured.

 

As a University of Michigan student in 1991, at a time when environmentalism, social justice, and healthy food were viewed as mutually exclusive categories, Erica “discovered” sustainable agriculture and became passionate about its ability to create tangible, enduring, positive change. In Michigan in the early 90’s, Erica found few outlets for her passion, so in 1994 she moved to California. And in 1996 she transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz, which at the time was the only large university in the U.S. with an organic farm on campus. She graduated from UCSC with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies/Sustainable Agriculture and then completed UCSC’s Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, an internationally recognized organic farmer training program which has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture movement. Since then, Erica has filled many roles related to organic agriculture and food, including as an Americorps member working with school gardens and the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz. In 1998, she was Youth Coordinator for the Detroit Agriculture Network.

In 2001 Erica, along with Mike Levine, founded Nature and Nurture LLC. They have been providing organic garden consultation, design, installation and maintenance full-time ever since. In 2006, she developed and taught the Organic Gardener Certificate Program at Washtenaw Community College. In 2008, Erica founded the Homegrown Festival, an Ann Arbor, community-based event which educates about and celebrates local and sustainable food. She participated in the development of the Local Food Summit and has been an active member of the Leadership Team of Slow Food Huron Valley. Her involvement with Slow Food exposed Erica to RAFT's (Renewing America’s Food Traditions) “Place-Based Foods at Risk in the Great Lakes” after which she became obsessed with researching, preserving, and breeding new Great Lakes regionally-adapted foods. With Slow Food, Erica has been involved in the Heirloom Seed Project and Slow Food’s Ark of Taste

 

Mike Levine has been obsessed with edible plants for his entire adult life. He has worked in the gardening, farming and ecological restoration fields since 1995. His first job, after graduating from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, was to work for the Natural Area Preservation Division of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation doing ecological restoration in city parks. The next season, he co-directed Project Grow Community Gardens and worked at several Ann Arbor area organic farms. Interested in sustainability, he studied the Fundamentals of Permaculture, a course in sustainable living at The Farm in Summertown, TN, where he first glimpsed shiitake mushrooms being grown at Mushroompeople by Frank Michael. In 1999, Mike worked at and managed Saguaro Plant Nursery (a rare and unusual plant nursery in the Ann Arbor area).

After extensive travels and a return to Michigan, Mike met Erica. In 2001, he and Erica founded Nature and Nurture, LLC, and have co-owned and managed it ever since. Nature and Nurture, LLC provides organic landscape maintenance, installation, consulting, design, and other related tasks. He currently runs a fruit nursery and orchard with many interesting and edible plants and taught Easy Organic Fruit Growing, a part of the Organic Gardener Certificate Program at Washtenaw Community College. Additionally, Mike has been studying taxonomy and field identification of mushrooms since 1996 in the Ann Arbor area and is an Approved Mushroom Identification Expert in the State of Michigan. In 2011, he studied Gourmet and Medicinal Mushroom Cultivation with Paul Stamets at Fungi Perfecti in Olympia, Washington, and he has been growing and selling shiitake mushrooms since 2001. He soon plans to build his own mycology lab on the Nature and Nurture Farm.

OUR MISSION

​Our Mission at Nature and Nurture is to create environmentally sustainable landscapes and gardens that enrich the quality of life of our community. We strive to provide quality work, exemplary customer service, and a healthy work environment. Through education, we seek to encourage the use of organic gardening practices. By maintaining an edible plant nursery, cultivating shiitake mushrooms, and growing our seed business we aim to promote the consumption of locally grown food. 

SPECIALIZATIONS

Landscape maintenance:

Ecological restoration: Invasive plant control; natural area management; erosion control; rain gardens; woodland gardens; butterfly and hummingbird gardens; lawn alternatives.


Edible landscapes: Vegetable gardens – seeds, planning, preparation, and cleanup. Herb gardens – perennial edibles. Urban orchards – fruiting trees, shrubs, vines, and berries.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

At Nature and Nurture LLC we create delightful outdoor spaces that engage the senses. With the hustle and bustle of modern life, we design landscapes that inspire and provide sanctuary.

We use organic practices which means that we do not use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. We view landscapes as ecosystems and use ecological principles to guide our work. During our design process a wide range of site factors are considered to create environmentally sustainable landscapes. We try to help homeowners embrace the concept of land stewardship.

We seek to preserve and restore biodiversity through native restoration. When possible, we use native plants in our landscapes because they are perfectly adapted to growing conditions here in Southeast Michigan. They serve various important ecological functions including adding biological diversity to oversimplified landscapes and providing food for native butterflies, pollinators, and birds. We have strict guidelines when it comes to plant selection and we do not use invasive species.

The food that we eat travels 1300 miles on average from field to table even though much of the food that we eat can be grown in our own backyards. At Nature and Nurture LLC, we promote edible plants and encourage our clients to grow food in their own yards. We encourage vegetable gardens and provide assistance with vegetable garden planning and preparation. We also have a small fruit nursery to supply our customers with edible and fruiting landscaping plants. We grow organic Shiitake Mushrooms. We market them directly to consumers and also to local area restaurants, including Zingerman's Delicatessen.

We work with integrity and do quality work that stands up to the test of time. We respect our employees and strive to manage in such a way that encourages personal growth. We love Ann Arbor and recognize the importance of sustaining this community.

We cultivate awareness in the community by teaching organic gardening classes, contributing to youth projects (such as The Agrarian Adventure at Tappan Middle School and Growing Hope), bringing high profile speakers to town (Deborah Koons Garcia, producer of The Future of Food), participating in the Mayor's Green Fair, and working with local non-profits such as the Ecology Center and Think Local First.

WHY ORGANIC?

At Nature and Nurture LLC, we do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. We view landscapes as ecosystems and use ecological principles to guide our work. For example, we may use mulch to protect and enhance soil by preventing soil erosion, minimizing evaporation, and adding organic matter to the soil. We perform site analysis and select plants based not only on aesthetic qualities, but also on site factors such as moisture, light, and soil texture. This approach makes plants thrive which helps prevents pest and disease. The conventional approach in landscaping is to select plants based solely on aesthetic features and then to "force" these plants to grow in the wrong site by applying large amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

ENVIRONMENTAL
SUSTAINABILITY

Delightful spaces

Inspiring landscapes

AESTHETICS
ENVIRONMENTAL
SUSTAINABILITY

Organic practices

Ecological principles

Quality

Respect

INTEGRITY
 

TESTIMONIALS

I am pleased to share my very happy experience with Nature and Nurture. They created a rain garden in my back yard in 2015 that was wonderful from the beginning and has only increased in providing seasonal pleasures since. I have not had any problems with the design or the plantings. I have added a lot, but never would have been able to start and prepare the garden without their guidance and hard work. Erica suggested the plants and the source and she and her crew did the work in a timely fashion. They cleaned up and they left me with answers to questions I had not even thought about!

Judith H.

 

Fully Licensed 

& Insured

Reliable & Trustworthy

Professional & Experienced

Title

Title

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

Pollinator Garden

Pollinator Garden

Native Garden

Native Garden

Installation 1

Installation 1

Installation 2

Installation 2

Installation 3

Installation 3

Edible Landscape

Edible Landscape

 
 

EMPLOYMENT

To apply for a job with us, please send a current resume with a cover letter and 3 references to info@natureandnurture.org
Below are PDF descriptions of the different job positions and internships:

Seasonal Landscape Crew

Team Member Position

Landscape Crew Team

Member Position

Internship Description

CONTACT US

We prefer meeting up for a consultation before starting a project, so please fill out this form if you would like to schedule a consultation. Please give us your name, contact information, and general availability. We will contact you to pinpoint a more specific time to meet up. If you just have some questions or thoughts, please feel free to email us at info@natureandnurture.org

Office: (734) 929-0802    //    Erica Cell: (734) 368-2610    //   Mike Cell: (734) 834-2050    //   info@natureandnurture.org    //    © Nature and Nurture, LLC

Nature and Nurture Seeds
Native Garden