Natives in Harmony Local nursery creates market for Ohio genotype plants for home gardens and pollinators
By Colleen Leonardi • Photography by Evan Schlarb
ale Martin loves native plants. And as pollinators depend on plants and we depend on pollinators, it is safe to also say Gale loves bugs. Standing amidst her greenhouses and garden beds she makes the case for why Ohio genotype plants are so important for, say, the bees that are native to Ohio. On a sunny day filled with birdsong, she describes with a sweet seriousness how mason bees cut little circles in leaves to then stuff in their babies’ nest as an antibiotic.
As a little girl, Gale spent time on her family farm tromping through the woods studying the plants. She always kept a plant pocket guide by her side. Her career, however, led her to a position as the director of the historical society in Marion. Gale’s work sometimes took her out to study remnants in prairies throughout Ohio. As she traversed these distant flower and grass fields, she noticed unique plants and collected seeds to bring back to her hobby farm to germinate and later grow in her garden.
“Being eaten by a bug is a good thing,” she says.
“I always had a love for plants.”
It’s for her love of bugs and plants that Gale doesn’t relent. She’s on a mission to “keep these plants from disappearing.”
It’s when Dan Grau, her husband and coowner of Natives in Harmony in Marengo, noticed Gale’s seed trays stacked up and
overflowing that he decided to build her a potting shed, which now stands at the center of Gale’s nursery when you visit the farm. Potting shed led to a hobby greenhouse, which led to another hoop house and a third. With a full year of retirement under her wings, Gale anticipates investing in a larger greenhouse to expand her operation this year. Natives in Harmony started in 2009 yet it’s really in the last few years that Gale has found her stride. In the beginning she tried farmers markets. On her first day she stood and talked about why native plants are so important as people walked by. They didn’t get it. Gale left planning to give up. Then Dan advised: “You just have to educate them.”
Right: Gale Martin, co-owner of Natives in Harmony, a nursery in Marengo raising native plants for Ohioans.