“Reality seemed a little bit less stable than I once imagined it to be,” Core said. “I realized that I didn’t have very many practical skills and that I wanted to feel more confident in that regard.”
The search for those skills led her to farming and building — and eventually to Moab. In 2012, Core took the train from Iowa to Moab to participate in Community Rebuilds. She got a permaculture certificate in Boulder, Utah, and for the past three years, she has been an intern for Utah State University Extension Sustainability in Moab, while working on a self-designed undergraduate degree in ecologically based community development.
The first two years of her work at Extension Sustainability focused on the Bee Inspired Gardens initiative, which the USU website describes as a “teaching platform for water-wise, pollinator friendly, perennial edible, and native plants.” Core coordinated the installation of local gardens at Canyonlands Field Institute, Aarchway Inn and the Moab Charter School.
She is currently volunteering for the initiative to help create a garden at Grand County Middle School, she said, to be installed the week of Earth Day, April 17. The public is invited to help with the project.
“[Middle school] is a cool age group because they’re totally on top of it,” Core said.
At first, she said, some students acted uninterested, but over time “they get really excited learning about pollinators and what they can do to help the populations of pollinators,” according to Core.
Her other recent effort is the CommuniTea Garden on 100 West. The garden is a project of the Resiliency Hub, formerly known as Canyonlands Community Recycling, for which Core serves as a board member.
A grand opening for the CommuniTea Garden will be held in April, with a peace gathering on April 25 and a community forum at the garden on April 27. In the future, the garden will host workshops and other events, and will serve herbal tea, Core said.
“We’re growing a lot of herbal plants that we can serve,” she said. “Sharing a warm beverage is a good way for people to sit down and talk to each other and make new connections and build up our social capital.”
The garden is on the way to school for many elementary school students, Core said, so those involved with the project planted fruit trees and students are encouraged to pick fruit on the way home from school. Core, who is a new mother, said it is gratifying to think that her own daughter, Hazel, will also get to enjoy those trees.
“It’s exciting to think now that I have a little kiddo that all these fruit trees that my partner Jeff and I have planted around town will be making fruit when she’s [older],” Core said. “It gives it a whole new level of meaning.”
This year during her Extension internship, Core is working on a database of sustainability-focused extension programs. Dr. Roslynn Brain, the project coordinator in Extension Sustainability at USU, said it has been extremely helpful having Core as an intern.
“She is extremely organized, creative and yet humble,” Brain said. “I have continuously found new funds and opportunities to bring her back on board. She’s been such an asset.”
Brain, who is also a new mother, added, “It’s been really fun venturing down the journey of motherhood together. We’ve both had newborns in the last several months, and also navigating the waters of how to raise a child in a very consumer-driven world, but with a sustainability ethic. It’s fun to work through that with her.”
Although she originally came to Moab to learn the practical skills for building shelter, Core said that over time her interest in sustainability has deepened.
“It’s actually turned into realizing that it feels really empowering ... to live a more simple life, and to try to have a positive impact on the world feels amazing,” Core said. “I don’t feel like I’m losing anything by trying to live simply. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of peace and a lot of contentment.”
She also thanked Brain for finding grant funding for Core and others’ work.
For her next project, Core and her partner, Jeff Adams, are installing a permaculture memorial garden for hospice at Moab Regional Hospital. The project is being done through Canyonlands Watershed Council.
In her spare time, Core likes walking around barefoot in the desert, doing yoga, dancing, going swimming in Mill Creek in the summertime, traveling and adventuring.