Kelly Orzel


About Kelly

Hi Friend, I’m Kelly.

I’m a small-scale, organic herb farmer, author and speaker growing in coastal Maine. You can find me in the greenhouse, looking slightly rumpled. Besides dirt, I’m obsessed with bread and cheese, over-sized sweaters and Jane Austen novels. Read on for all the juice!

“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.”
–Helen Hayes


I taped this quote to my desk when I was 16. There’s something almost sacred about growing. I love getting dirty, the smell of rich soil, the planting, pinching and harvesting. It’s home.

One reason I like plants is because they don’t talk back. Unlike most social occasions, I don’t lie awake in bed agonizing over what I’ve said or done after spending the day in the garden.

In the garden I am a superhero; I can bring a flat of clearance sale geraniums back from the dead. (Unfortunately, I can just as easily forget that I left said flat in the trunk of my car during a heatwave. True story.)
Over the past 20 years I’ve worked as a horticulturist on a 70-acre farm, dabbled in plant biotechnology, earned my masters in Horticulture and run my own herb farm. Growing beautiful, abundant herbs, flowers and vegetables is what inspires me, and gives me connection in this digital age.

Searching for a simpler, slower, more intentional life, my husband and I are Maine transplants. Here I was living the dream, growing herbs and flowers on my small-scale farm. Life was good. Then a couple years ago the baby-bug bit me, and now I’m blessed to be a mid-life Mama to the sweetest little boy ever and savoring every moment of it!

Growing is such a deep-seeded calling of mine, but more than that, I love to share my obsession with other like-minded gardeners. Writing and speaking have been such a stunning surprise to me. As a self-confessed introvert, I never imagined that I would be speaking to hundreds of people at a single event, or a published author. It has been a refreshing adventure. What that started out as me filling in for a last-minute cancellation for my garden club almost 10 years ago, has ballooned into a fulfilling career. The ability to talk about something I’m passionate about, and share with others who also relish getting their hands dirty, has been truly transformative. I’m so inspired by growing—the more I grow, the more I want to talk and write about it—and I feel incredibly fortunate that I get to share what I know about gardening.

Things To Know About Me

•  I was born in the wrong era
•  I grow everything organically. All you need is compost, the oh-so-fragrant fish emulsion, and some good bugs
•  Garden stalking isn’t weird, it’s completely reasonable behavior in my opinion
•  I devour mystery-thrillers like they’re candy
•  My fantasy garden is way bigger than what the laws of time and space allow
•  It’s never a choice between seeds and shoes. Seeds. Every time.
•  I’m long-winded. I try to be concise, but there will always something I want to add
•  I am dishwasher-Jenga Olympic medalist
•  My ever-growing laundry pile haunts me (everyday I pray it’s learned to fold itself)
•  I never met a cheese or bread that I didn’t like

Kelly Orzel

Speaking Engagements

Kelly Orzel

Bring the garden to your
next meeting

I’m here to help you sow and grow like a pro! Want to become a master seed-starter and propagator? I’m your girl. Are you in a secret love affair with show-stopping dahlias and ready to take your flower patch to the next level? I can teach you how. Or are you ready to become a vegetable garden boss and grow a pantry and freezer-full of food? Well, you’re in the right place!

Since 2012 I’ve spoken at over 300 events all over New England to home garden enthusiasts like you. And, as a self-confessed garden geek and book lover, I can’t wait to share with you everything I’ve experienced and learned.


Farm + Garden

Farming was always the dream. So when I was the farmer delivering to local markets, hearing “the herb girl is here!” it was incredibly satisfying. Harvesting basil with sweat dripping off my face and arms while being eaten alive by mosquitos was certainly not as thrilling. But that’s farming. It’s hard. But oh-so-fulfilling. I began growing herbs full-time in 2011 and felt like life had finally arrived.

Why herbs in a world full of flowers and vegetables you say? Because herbs are my jam! They’ve been my favorite since I was a teenager. Their scents are beyond belief, their flavors enticing, and full of lucious foliage that is simply beautiful. I grow culinary herbs. Mostly … cause I still have to squeeze in some flowers. For years I sold at farmers markets, local grocery stores and to wholesale to chefs and restaurants. I had arrived. I was a farmer.

When my son was born it was the greatest blessing, but it also made me reevaluate my life. There’s no way I could continue to be out in the field planting and harvesting in early morning, processing and making deliveries throughout the day, then tucking in the plants as the sun goes down—all while being the kind of Mama I wanted to be. I needed to prioritize. So I made the difficult decision to officially close the farm in 2020. Now I have the ability to devote all my time to my incredible little boy and baby girl while creating the gardens I’ve always fantasized about, but never had the time to grow while farming full-time.

But not to worry. I’m still out there; super active on the garden circuit as a speaker, working on my next book (from my love affair with herbs, can you guess what I’m writing about next?) and keeping you all up to date on what I’m growing in my gardens and all the techniques I’m using on my blog, The Bowery.

Small-Scale Farm Techniques, I now use in my gardens

•  No-Dig Gardening
•  Sheet Mulching (aka Lasagna Beds)
•  Organic Mulches
•  Cover Cropping
•  Intensive Plant Spacing
•  Crop Rotation
•  Succession Sowing
•  Row Covers + Hoop Houses
•  Swales
•  Drip-line Irrigation
•  Landscape Fabric as Mulch
•  IPM —Bring on the Beneficials! (Trap Crops, Resistant Crops + Pollinators)


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