“You can start whenever you want to” is the belief that Jaclyn Janoscko encourages you to embody when it comes to gardening and growing. We are pleased to shine the grower’s spotlight on Jaclyn this month who previously worked with us as a workshare and this season, we welcome her on our team as a Farmstand and Sales Coordinator! In this spotlight, Jaclyn shares her personal interest in herbal wellness, lessons she’s learned from gardening, and her experience of working as a workshare at Shiloh Farm. Hope you enjoy meeting Jaclyn and say hi if you see her at the Braddock farmstand!

Grow Pittsburgh: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jaclyn Janocsko: Hi! I’m Jaclyn. I grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh my whole life (except for a few years where I lived in Ohio) and come from a SouthSide Polish Pittsburgh Family. We love our cabbage, potatoes, dill & pickles! I love plants, pets & people. And I care about doing my part to ensure a thriving green future, which is a main reason I am learning how to garden. I also deeply care about mental health awareness & healing generational family patterns. I lost my sister, Michelle, in 2014 to suicide and since then I’ve viewed life differently. I started noticing the weather, seasons and trees. I realized I needed to embrace being alive! 

For me, plants are my therapeutic teachers & healers. I find the entire process of working with plants deeply nourishing for my spirit. I am passionate about astrology, psychology, philosophy, herbal practices, natural medicine, and healing relationships. Some of my favorite hobbies are making herbal wellness goodies, watercolor painting, building puzzles, enjoying music, exploring a new place, cooking a family recipe, and being around loved ones!


GP: How long have you been growing food and how did you learn?
Jaclyn: I would say that I am still very new to gardening and I have so much to learn! I’ve been keeping a small garden since I graduated in 2017, but my desire to start growing started around 2011, after a sociology teacher taught our class about the current farming practices. I realized just how disconnected I was from the food I was consuming and that sparked a desire in me to reconnect to food & nature. 

One of my favorite memories as a little kid is of my mom teaching us how to get the sweet nectar from clover flowers in our yard. I was fascinated watching her pick the clover right from the ground and then gently extract the nectar at the tips of the flower petals!  I drew from this childhood curiosity to guide my gardening! 

Most of my learning has been through doing small growing experiments and trial and error! Growing kitchen scraps, seed starting, and water propagating being core home lessons. Plus houseplants! I have many non-edible houseplants.  I also like to watch online videos and often search for educational videos on new gardening topics sparking my curiosity. I’m very much a visual learner if not hands on! 

In 2019, my boyfriend and I started a little home garden. We were so excited and planted tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, carrots, a raspberry bush & even cosmo flowers. Our evening gardening quickly became a favorite family activity for us, even our dog Luna would get involved. Sadly, only the peppers made it through that season. Along with the cosmos. Which turned out beautiful. The groundhog who lived under the garden shed enjoyed many, if not most, of the plants that season, so did the bunnies, deer & birds. We learned a valuable lesson on crop protection though! 


GP: What’s your favorite thing to grow?
Jaclyn: HERBS!!! I love growing herbs! Sweet, Savory, Medicinal, you name it! They are simple, easy, abundant, and can be grown in the ground, in containers, outdoors & indoors. They are so versatile.  Currently, Cinnamon Basil is my favorite herb to grow. The smell is an amazingly sweet spice and it makes the most delicious addition to my daily cup of tea. 

Here is a simple Tea recipe I use, 

  1. One pinch of your favorite loose leaf tea as a base, mine is (milk oolong leaves) 
  2. A few pinches of cinnamon basil leaves (dried)
  3. A few lavender flower buds 
  4. A dried rose petal or two 
  5. & Honey to your sweetness preference! 
  6. Pour hot water over the mixture
  7. Let it steep at least 5 minutes
  8. Enjoy : ) 


GP: What are the most impactful lesson(s) you’ve learned in your time gardening?
Jaclyn: Some of the most impactful lessons include; 1. Gardening is about giving & receiving, it’s a reciprocal, a regenerative & a restorative relationship with nature. I need to put in the time to gain the reward! 2. Observe. The weather, the Sun, the Moon, the wind & rain, the continuous changing of the plants and animals. You will learn so much from just observing. 3. The local critters are hungry, they deserve food too, so protect what needs to be protected for harvest & offer to the animals from the abundance. It’s all about co-habitation!    


GP: What’s a piece of advice you would give to someone who is new to growing?
Jaclyn: ANYONE CAN GROW!  Start small and do what feels right to YOU because gardening is your own unique experience. It’s meant to be enjoyable. My advice is to focus your energy on growing plants you love and will enjoy! Look at each plant as a new relationship you are developing. How can you support this plant and maybe how can it support you? Each season is a new opportunity to experiment with a plant in your yard, in a container, or indoors to see how that plant grows in your environment. Let gardening be fun & playful. Let your hands & feet get dirty! 


GP: What made you decide to invest your time in being a workshare?
Jaclyn: My time as a workshare on the Shiloh Farm was by far my favorite community experience.  I met some very cool people who are also passionate about sustainable community gardening. And each week, my workshare shift was thanked by beautiful offerings from the farm. I grew as a person & gardener during the valuable time I put in as a workshare. 

I would recommend the workshare position to anyone who is interested in gaining hands-on gardening experience!  Each week I was able to see the farm grow & change. I worked the second half of the workshare day, so most of my work was on the washing, drying & packing side of things. I spent a lot of my time at the Frick Greenhouse. There, I was able to learn how to grow microgreens, see ginger & turmeric grown/harvested, and get surprise visits from the grounds cat, Luke. 

Over the eight-month season, I was able to pick fresh flowers, harvest veggies, herbs, and greens, receive the occasional ripe fig, sour cherry & strawberries, try fresh chicken eggs laid by one of the five chickens that live on the farm & at the end of the season I received the most delicious jar of honey from the bee’s who also live on the farm.  The experience was amazing! 


GP: Which one of Grow Pittsburgh’s values resonates the most with you?
Jaclyn: Grow Pittsburgh’s value for Environmental Responsibility is what resonates most with me. The practice & belief that naturally grown and chemically free produce should be available as a right and not a privilege is what initially drew me to their work. I was able to really see organic and sustainable practices in use firsthand during my workshare experience. I was also able to gain a deeper understanding of “pests” and see environmentally responsible & ultimately kinder ways of pest prevention and management. 


GP: In what ways do you wish to grow your gardening or growing skills into the future?
Jaclyn: In the future, I hope to grow my gardening skills into a successful sustainable healing homestead for my family& community. I want to deepen my practice with herbal remedies and expand my knowledge of medicinal herbs.


GP: What motivates you to be involved with Grow Pittsburgh?
Jaclyn: I am motivated to be involved with Grow Pittsburgh because of the integrity of the work they are doing around the region. They are a dynamic non-profit that visually symbolizes hope for today & resilience into the future. I am ecstatic to say that I have been able to go from casually volunteering with a friend all those years ago to a workshare on the Shiloh Farm team last season, to now being this season’s Farmstand & Sales Coordinator at Braddock Farm. I am joyful to continue in this work!

Jaclyn’s photo reel

Get a glimpse into her time as a workshare
Ginger Grown in the Frick Greenhouse
Treats from workshare days
Shiloh Farm workshare treats
Jaclyn with the flowers she picked in July 2021

Are you interested in applying for the workshare program this year? Learn More here.

Do you know another local grower you’d like to see in the Grower’s Spotlight? Maybe it’s you! Drop us a line to be featured in our next newsletter or on our blog.