Liesje Gantert

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Liesje Gantert

What happens when you blend a love of reading, a background in biology and a penchant for helping people? You get a Firesoul, that’s what!

As Executive Director of the Village Learning Place—an “independent non-profit library that houses educational programs, enrichment opportunities, and informational resources for Charles Village and throughout Baltimore City” per their website—Liesje Gantert offers her community not only a library for books, but a thriving community hub for personal and professional growth.

Layer in her degree in Environmental Biology, and a passion for preserving and protecting our natural habitats—it is no surprise that Liesje has helped steward the Sacred Place at the Village Learning Center for over 15 years. She credits the ongoing success of her garden to the mighty cadre of volunteers, who keep it beautiful and thriving.

“A Firesoul has a passion for creating, maintaining, and sharing in nature. As a person who lives, works, and loves the City of Baltimore, I believe it is important to preserve green spaces within the city!”

As a mom of two with an affinity for travel and adventure—Liesje is a student of life; a people-person by any definition. We’re lucky to know her!

“I draw inspiration from the patrons and students served by the organization. My favorite story is from several years ago when my Teacher in our after school program brought her class out to visit the garden. She pulled a leaf from one of the herbs in our raised bed and tasted it, then encouraged the students to do the same. One students exclaimed, “Ewww! You’re going to eat that; it came out of the dirt!” At that moment, we knew we had our work cut out for us and it was back to the classroom. Now, we have incorporated a Youth Garden within our green space so that our program participants can grow vegetables and herbs and learn more about where their food comes from.”

Photo credit: Maureen Porto. 

My Sacred Place

Village Learning Place

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Teresia Hazen

When it comes to horticultural therapy, Teresia Hazen, M.Ed., HTR, QMHP, is the real deal. She’s worked with Legacy Health in Portland Oregon as the coordinator of 12 therapeutic gardens at 8 hospitals since 1991; offers her services as mental health professional; and is a forerunner for employee health promotion—and the field of horticultural therapy...


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