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Full Service Garden and Homesteading Organization Takes Root in Pittsburgh

Food Supply Concerns Motivate Female Entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh to Help Families Grow Life-Sustaining Gardens

Pittsburgh, PA: Root Cause, a full service garden and homesteading organization, has been founded in Pittsburgh. Founded in part by internationally known rapper, singer, activist and entrepreneur Kellee Maize, Root Cause is supported by a group of 20 other female entrepreneurs. After witnessing empty grocery store shelves due to the COVID-19 chaos, this group of women recognized food as not only a root cause of concern in the crisis but also as the key to changing many other issues that exist on the planet today.

In addition to planning and maintaining edible gardens and homesteads for clients, Root Cause aims to mend the disconnect between people and the earth that our food comes from by providing support in a variety of related areas such as:

  • Greenhouse construction
  • Medicinal plant gardens
  • Chicken coop set-up and maintenance
  • Beehive set-up and maintenance
  • Indoor growing facilitation
  • Harvesting and canning
  • Custom raised garden beds

The founding members of Root Cause are experienced educators. For families who wish to create and maintain gardens or homesteads on their own, the group will provide teaching and resources so that children and adults can participate. Root Cause is prepared to provide training in planning, creating, maintaining, harvesting and preserving a sustainable permaculture food-bearing environment on their land.

Other founders include lifelong gardener, forager and yoga instructor Tami Gingrow; permaculture designer, herbalist, and tantra instructor Michelle Czolba; and massage therapist, energy healer, and community organizer Roxanne Banks-Williams. These four founders and the majority of other members are mothers who believe strongly that this knowledge of how to live sustainably must be passed down to the next generation as a means of survival and wellness.

Root Cause’s goal is to provide an open source of information as the organization grows so that the team can expand and empower other communities across the globe to follow suit.

About Root Cause: Root Cause is a full service garden and homesteading organization dedicated to helping its community create and maintain gardens and homesteads. Founded in April 2020, Root Cause looks forward to serving the Pittsburgh community and beyond through a variety of gardening, homesteading, and teaching services.

COVID-19 Cancellations

Like the rest of the world OAGC is faced with difficult situations regarding the health and safety of our members and their communities. The current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many events around Ohio, the United States and the world, in hopes of halting the spread and severity of the illness caused by this new virus.

As cancelled OAGC sponsored events are shared with the webmaster (, they will be posted below.

OAGC Event Cancellations


CANCELLED: April 18-19, 2020 – Granville Garden Club (Reg. 8) Daffodil Sale/Show

CANCELLED: May 9, 2020 – Fairfield Garden Club (Fairfield OH, Region 4) Fundraising Luncheon. Rescheduled for October 20 at 11 am at Fairfield Community Arts Center (411 Wessel Dr., Fairfield, OH 45014) Contact Mary Gamstetter at 513-892-6806, 513-379-2153 or

CANCELLED: May 25-26, 2020 – Exhibitors’ and Judges’ School #1

CANCELLED: May 31-June 5, 2020 – Nature Study Retreat

CANCELLED: June 11-13, 2020 – OAGC Annual Convention

CANCELLED: September 8-9 2020-Exhibitors’ and Judges’ School #2

The Importance of Using Native Plants in Your Landscape

by Victor Wang

It may be tempting to surround your home with exotic or show-stopping plants, but those plants come with risk and responsibility. Your landscape should complement all aspects of your home’s exterior. Using native plants has many benefits, not only for the environment but also for the time you spend working outdoors.

Low Maintenance

Long “to-do” lists mark our days as we balance work, family, chores, and time for ourselves. While gardening is therapeutic, you still want time to sit back and enjoy your garden. Choosing native plants for your landscaping means you’ll spend less time tending to them. Low-maintenance native options are already well adapted to the Ohio environment and soil conditions, and often need little to no extra watering. They are hardy to last through the season and usually thrive when they aren’t fussed over.

Support Local Pollinators

Butterflies, bees, and other Ohio pollinators are sure to visit the native areas of your yard. These vital parts of our environment help to create healthy plants and support the fragile balance of the ecosystem. Planting native options, such as goldenrod or purple coneflower, invites these pollinators to stop and stay awhile as they gather nectar.

The natives also preserve Ohio’s biodiversity. Local birds and wildlife depend on native plants for their food source. Invasive plants often crowd out the native species, robbing the local wildlife of food and habit.

Cut Down on Water Usage

The Buckeye State experienced abnormally dry conditions in 2019, with 12% of the state in a moderate drought. Water conservation efforts are gaining momentum in all 50 states as more people realize the value of this natural resource. Doing your part by planting native flowers, shrubs, and trees in your yard will help cut down on the need to water.

Less Expensive

Gardening and yard work are great ways to beautify your home, but they also come at a cost. Choosing native plants to surround the house is a great way to save money. Native options often are cheaper than other varieties at the local garden center, thanks to their abundance in the area.

You can also ask for starts or cuttings from neighbors or friends who have an abundance of native species. You’ll save money and add a sentimental aspect to your gardening as you remember who gave you the plant.

Native Vs. Invasive

An invasive plant is one that can cause economic or environmental damage in Ohio. Their natural predators often weren’t imported with them, so it’s easy for them to spread out of control. Ohio is fighting back against nature’s enemies, by banning 38 species of exotic plants. The Japanese honeysuckle, autumn olive shrubs, fig buttercup, and others that steal water from local species are now illegal to sell in Ohio.

You can still find plenty of intruders at your local nursery. Before buying any plant that isn’t native, ask yourself if it’s worth inviting the invasive bugs sure to come with it? Support Ohio’s first Native Plant Month in April 2020 by planting some wild geranium or black-eyed Susan.

Victor Wang grew up in Central California, plucking tomato worms from his mother’s heirloom tomato garden, and is now a master gardener and freelance writer. His areas of expertise include landscaping, pest control and, of course, gardening.

Support Ohio’s first Native Plant Month in April

by Jean Jankowski, Ohio Association of Garden Clubs, First Vice President

(Update: Events listed at bottom of this post.) For years OAGC has been touting the importance of including native plants in our landscapes, as well as creating public spaces designated for natives.

Many of the regional meetings I have attended since becoming an officer have had speakers and educational displays addressing how the establishment and growth of native food sources creates a foundation for a healthy ecosystem. Many of our members signed the petition that led to establishing April as Ohio Native Plant Month, the first of which will be celebrated in 2020.

We now have the opportunity to share our knowledge and bring public awareness to this vital topic. There are hundreds of native species in Ohio and many of them are not being promoted in the industry. We all love our non-native cultivars, but if we just plant three natives for each season and encourage others to follow our lead, it would make a tremendous difference. We also need to address the invasive plant crisis.

According to the Ohio Invasive Plant Council, “Invasive plants cost natural resources and recreation agencies,farmers, industry and homeowners millions of dollars each year.” The Ohio Association of Garden Clubs needs to take this opportunity to hold lectures or open meetings. On behalf of all birds, insects, and all wild creatures, I challenge our regions and garden clubs to jump on the bandwagon.

Think of unique ways to get the message across. Collaborate with your local Master Gardeners, schools,scouts, garden centers, metro parks, state parks, or preserves. Make sure your local schools and city council are aware of Ohio Native Plant Month and encourage them to participate. As an organization of gardeners, we are aware of the vital importance of pollinators, and although we complain about some insects and wildlife, we know that each one has a unique purpose, and we are all sharing the planet.

Email your event announcement to the webmaster ( so that it can be listed on the OAGC website ( and help publicize the event on social media. Please send a copy to me, as well, so I know about all the OAGC native plant events that will be taking place next April. I hope to attend as many as I can.


April 23, 2020: Region 7 Spring Regional Meeting: The morning program is “Native Plants” by Guy Denny. (23 Pickwick Place, 1875 N. Sandusky Ave., Bucyrus, OH 44820.) Contact Kristy Apt at

April 28, 2020: Region 2 Spring Regional Meeting: The afternoon program is Dan Hodges will speak on “Nature in the Garden — Biodiversity of Native Plants”. (South Side Christian Church, 3300 South Side Dr., Lima, OH 45807-2278.) Contact Charlene Guingrich at

April 30, 2020: Region 5 Spring Regional Meeting: The morning program is “Gardening With Native Plants” by Ron Corbett. (The Centre, Miami Valley Centre Mall in Piqua, OH.) Contact Penny Adams at

2019 OAGC Convention

The 89th annual convention for the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs was held July 18-20 at the Roberts Centre near Wilmington, Ohio. Using the theme “Wild About Ohio”, around 185 members and guests enjoyed days of floral designs and horticulture displays, programs, door prizes and raffle prizes. A complete report of all the convention winners can be found in the Oct-Nov-Dec issue of The Garden Path.

Bus trip to the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show

OAGC 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show
Bus Trip – March 3-5, 2020
3 Days – 2 Nights – 4 Meals

Get ready to plan your garden for next year! Or just marvel at the beautiful flowers and displays at the world’s oldest and largest indoor flower show.

Day 1: Depart for Philadelphia with rest stops and lunch, on your own, along the way. A stop will be included at the Flight 93 Memorial. Because of the actions of 40 passengers and crew aboard one of the planes, Flight 93, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted. Dinner is included before arriving at a local hotel near King of Prussia, PA. (Dinner included)

Day 2: Today you will attend the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show, Riviera Holiday. You will quickly understand why this is America’s premier flower event. Start your day at the show and be welcomed by groves of Citrus trees. Breathe in fragrant waves of lavender inspired by the terraced gardens of Monaco. Drifts of purple and white spiked salvia, specimen succulents and, an intoxicating variety of scented geraniums, roses, rosemary and sage create a stunning mosaic that is at once picturesque and charming. Walk the esplanade of flowering arches. Become enraptured by the delightful dimension of Show gardens and dramatic accents that rise in soft meadows of horticultural perfection. Explore the allure and extraordinary plant palette of some of the world’s captivating coastal regions. Riviera Holiday beckons you to embrace your inner romantic and create a Mediterranean inspired garden of your own. This evening check into the Hilton Garden Inn Convention Center for tonight’s stay. (Breakfast included)

Day 3: Following an included breakfast, we depart early this morning for Longwood Gardens. Boasting 11,000 varieties of plants spread out across more than 1,000 acres of gardens, meadows, woodlands and elaborate horticultural displays, Longwood Gardens always has something in bloom. This afternoon, lunch is included at Shady Maple Smorgasbord before departing for home. Arrive back this evening excited to share stories of the wonderful flowers seen in Philadelphia. (Breakfast & Lunch included)

Tour Package Includes:
Round-trip Transportation via Croswell’s Deluxe VIP Motorcoach
Two (2) Nights Accommodations
Two (2) Breakfasts, One (1) Lunch, One (1) Dinner
All Admissions and Attractions as Described Above
All Taxes and Gratuities on Included Meals and Lodging and Luggage Handling
Tour Cost Per Person:
$599.00 Double Occupancy $569.00 Triple Occupancy $549.00 Quad Occupancy $919.00 Single Occupancy
For More Information or to make a Reservation, Contact Charlene Thornhill at 937-548-3417.

Cancellation Protection is available to you for $55.00 per person for double, triple, and quad occupancy and $75.00 for Single Occupancy. Cancellations with Cancellation Protection will be guaranteed a full refund up to the day before the tour departure. Cancellation Protection allows a refund on any unused portion of a tour due to illness or emergency while on the tour.
Cancellation protection may be added when you make your FINAL payment.
A $100 Deposit, per person, is due by December 1, 2019.
Final Payment by January 10, 2020.


On the road again – this time to Pigeon Forge and The Biltmore Estate!

OAGC will be heading south November 18-21, 2019 with a bus trip to visit sights around Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and also visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

The first day of this 4 day – 3 night trip includes a stay at the Country Cascades Hotel in Pigeon Forge and dinner at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in The Island Complex before exploring The Island.

Day 2 highlights include: departing for the Biltmore Estate, a special luncheon at the Deerpark Restaurant, visiting the Biltmore Winery and returning to the hotel in Pigeon Forge.

Day 3: after an included breakfast, depart for the Titanic Museum, visit the Mountain Valley Winery for a tour and tasting and a fun evening and dinner at the Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Feud.

Day 4: breakfast is included before meeting a step-on-guide and traveling to the Smoky Mountains. There will be time to explore Gatlinburg before departing for home.

Tour cost per persons: $699/double occupancy; $629/triple occupancy; $599/quad occupancy and $949/single occupancy. A $100 deposit is needed by August 30 and full payment due by October 5.

Bus pickup locations are: Drury Inn and Suites Columbus Grove City (4109 Parkway Centre Drive, Grove City, OH 43123, 614-875-7000, Exit 100) and Drury Inn and Suites Cincinnati Sharonville (2265 E. Sharon Road, Sharonville, OH 45241, 513-771-5601, Exit 15)