We offer a year-long garden coaching program held on site at Oakley’s M R Gardens — which includes established no-till vegetable beds, culinary and medicinal herbs, native and beneficial flowers, holistically maintained orchards and a passive solar greenhouse. (For tours and other quick learning experiences, see our Stay at the Gardens page.)

All classes are hands-on learning experiences. Owner Megan Riley, who has been helping clients create gardens at their homes since 2012, lives by her proven educational technique — Participation is the key to remembering what is taught, as we embody the knowledge.

We have two tracks – Grow and Emergence.


Participate in the growing of your own food!
Learn new growing methods!
Take home a basket of veggies, fruit, herbs and/or flowers each week!

The main focus of Grow is the “Microbe Rich” method of growing plants, particularly healthy vegetables, with a focus on building the soil to make life above ground simpler and stronger. In addition, we'll touch on:

-       The “forest garden,” which is an orchard where fruit trees and shrubs are strategically placed and layered among herbaceous plants and ground covers so that they grow in symbiosis;
-       Beneficial flowers, which help create a healthy ecosystem so that predators keep garden pests in check;
-       Native plants, which are key elements of the food web, providing for the abundance of life;
-       Naturalized landscaping, which entails learning which “volunteers” to keep and which to remove;
-       Invasive vegetation, which we keep at bay to encourage diversity in the local woods;
-       Seed starting in a passive solar greenhouse, which is climate controlled by design, with no additional heat or cooling;
-       Medicinal herbs, which inspire a connection between the grower and the plants’ essence. 

At the end of each session, we pick the produce that is in season and split the bounty among the group.

If all of this sounds like a lot to learn, keep in mind that we cover topics in bite sizes, and often circle around again, reviewing similar subjects in other classes to refresh our memories. In short, we're learning the basics of how to grow our own food in an ecologically sound way. Plus, we're establishing a routine of gardening, and creating an environment for you to connect.

We meet approximately three afternoons per month for 2 to 3 hours. The group gets together less during the cold months, but students make up the time with one-on-one sessions during the growing season. Meetup days/times are adjusted depending on sunset time and group input.

The 2017-18 program is now complete. Stay tuned for information about 2019 opportunities as well as pricing.

Call Megan at 828.333.4151 to express interest and to set up an appointment to talk together in the gardens. We ask for a $25 application fee, which includes an interview about your goals and needs, and a tour of the site.


For the grower who wants all of the above and plus more. This program is designed for students who hope to make income from a new way of horticulture. 

As M R Gardens’ edible and native landscaping business grows, Megan is expanding the type of clientele she serves. While her core customers are property owners who maintain the landscape themselves, she recently has been working with clients who would rather hire someone to install and maintain the gardens. Often homeowners really want to have an edible and native landscape, and are even open to learning more about how to tend it, but they need to prioritize other areas of their lives – whether they are running after their kids or developing creative projects for the community or just trying to make ends meet. Megan needs your help to help them.

Megan is training other gardeners in her unique style of installing and maintaining landscapes to be able to expand this aspect of the business. M R Gardens’ unique horticultural method takes time to learn – even for those who have an extensive gardening background. That’s why Megan is offering “Emergence” to mold new growers. Emergence students might also coordinate group gardens on other sites such as businesses that want to improve the lives of their employees; or housing associations offering garden amenities; or on land of private homeowners who want to add gardens to their neighborhood.

Currently, students learn alongside “Grow” participants, and as the program progresses, they are given opportunities to teach what they learn. In addition, Emergence students volunteer at M R Gardens once a week to participate in maintaining the landscape. When and if the time is right, they may develop their own clientele under Megan’s guidance. But there are no commitments – you are free to take your experience and make it your own.

Changes are underway for the 2019 program to further streamline the process of getting Emergence graduates into paid work. Stay tuned for details, or contact Megan directly for information.

The name of the program says a lot — “Emergence” (with the M R G standing for M R Gardens) reminds us of the seedling pushing out of the soil after two days, two weeks, two years or even two decades of waiting. Similarly, it is now time for you as a new grower to emerge.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Emergence is also just one letter off from “Emergency” – and while M R Gardens typically motivates through inspiration rather than fatalism, it’s important to at least mention the significant moment we are now in. Biodiversity and perhaps even humanity’s existence is dependent on our capacity to learn how to sustain ourselves in a way that is healthy to everyone and everything around us.

Yet “Emergence” creates a soft invitation to this new way of living. It’s the sweet calm on a lightly foggy morning, when birds are just beginning their day, and the sun is peeking from above the eastern mountains, assuring that the clouds will indeed soon lift.

Call Megan at 828.333.4151 to express your interest in Emergence, and set up an appointment to meet up in the Gardens.