Sue Bridge is Wildside’s founder and current resident steward.
Some years ago, Sue began to understand that the ripple effects of climate change and human over-population are likely to present future generations with a very difficult world. Her initial thought was to build a homestead to see if deep green living as currently understood could be a practical reality for herself, and thus perhaps a way for others, to gain greater personal control of their food and energy supplies. Early on, though, as dozens of people heard of what she was attempting and asked to visit, it became clear that Wildside should be open to the public.
Now a healthy, happy seventy-something, Sue transferred ownership of Wildside to Wildside Cottage & Gardens Inc, a 501c3 corporation created in 2013. With no children of her own, she believes that “All children are my children.” This shift in ownership ensures that Wildside will be managed as the exciting experimental site and teaching platform it has become, long into the future.
Sue takes special pleasure in Wildside’s hands-on approach. The Wildside project follows a lifetime of pro-social engagements at the United Nations, teaching at university, working at the Christian Science Monitor, and supporting health care reform and environmental causes. But something was lacking. All this work involved urging others to change: to distribute wealth, cease polluting, stop wars, legislate solutions and so forth. At Wildside she feels there is a deeper joy in communicating by example — learning to manage the cottage’s solar-powered systems through high heat and deep cold, understanding the usefulness of a composting toilet, and out on the land, planning, watching, planting, nurturing, keeping notes, replanting, preserving, studying, sharing.
Jono Neiger designed Wildside’s gardens; he has long professional experience in landscape design, land restoration and permaculture, is on the faculty at the Conway School for Landscape Design, and a partner in Regenerative Design Group in Greenfield, MA.
Jono is also the author of a new book about permaculture, The Permaculture Promise, which features Wildside Gardens.
Sarah Shields is an herbalist, farmer and owner of a small company which produces natural body care products and teas; she and her family are long-time pioneers in energy efficiency, food production and preservation. Her husband, Keith, built Wildside Cottage.
Tom Bridge owns Durango Nursery and Supply in Durango, CO, specializing in native and xeric plants, soils and soil amendments. He has worked in mining in the Yukon, fishing in Alaska, and has owned a hydroponic vegetable production company. Now in his sixties with a new knee and a new shoulder, he has scaled back (a little) on a lifetime of extreme sports, notably downhill and cross-country skiing and mountain biking. He is Sue’s bionic brother.
Josh Morse is in his third year at Franklin Land Trust in Shelburne Falls MA, where as Land Steward he coordinates the land trust’s popular volunteer easement monitoring program.