Get to Know the Green Queen!
My name is Andrea Leigh Ptak—aka The Green Queen of Moderation. A writer and graphic designer who has been invested in sustainable living most of my adult life, I came of age in the early 1970s in a small-town in Central New York. I experienced the environmental movement from its infancy, and was there for the first Earth Day. I devoured books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and embraced Joni Mitchell’s call to “get ourselves back to the garden.”
From my Italian grandmother, I learned the thrifty values of the Great Depression. There was always a button box, and a place to save plastic bags. Socks got darned, old clothes became rags, and meals were cooked from scratch. Stale bread was ground into breadcrumbs, and scraps were tossed outside for the birds. A vegetable garden was a given—authentic spaghetti sauce needs home-canned tomatoes.
I became aware of the concepts of organic gardening when a close cousin moved to a home on three acres. I saw first-hand the results of composting and pest control without chemicals. It made total sense. All of the things my grandmother had done were now cool—progressive.
As a young adult, I found my own piece of heaven on five acres in the Texas Hill Country outside San Antonio. Finding it difficult to dig a decent hole in the limestone, I developed a passion for native plants, learning to identify and nurture the flora already thriving on my property. I encouraged wildlife to visit by putting out bird feeders, and cracked corn for the whitetail deer that populated the scrubby forest. My reward was a myriad of birds, including the colorful painted bunting, and a small herd of deer who were tame enough to bring their babies to my yard, but wary enough to run from people—as they should be.
When a life-change brought me to Seattle in 1993, I had to adjust to neighborhood living again. The city was so environmentally progressive, I fit right in—carrying my own bags to the health food co-op and immediately buying in to recycling on a daily basis. My hubby put up a clothesline for me, and we turned our large lot into a series of garden rooms.
In the 21 years since, I have continued on the sustainable path. My yard boasts a minimum of grass, a mix of native and cultivated plants, and an abundance of edibles including berries, grapes, apples, vegetables and herbs. Two years ago, I became a Certified Master Urban Naturalist through the Audubon Society. My passion has grown to embrace less common sustainable practices like repurposing and conscientious consumerism—but all in moderation.
I know that I cannot be perfect, and do buy the occasional bottle of water or convenience food. Plastic has not been banned from my home—though I try to reuse as much as I can. The list goes on. And that, in essence, is the basis for this blog.