Meet our Team: Becky Schaller
As a youngster, Becky Schaller and one of her brothers each had a flower bed in their family’s backyard, with Petunias in the front of the bed, Marigolds in the middle and Morning Glories trailing in the back. Their mom also had a garden, and a compost pile.
So a bit of gardening was in her family history. It wasn’t until many years later, when her parents moved into memory care and hospice and Becky came to Oklahoma City to help care for them, that she really began learning about soil — by working in the urban farm her sister Lia and her brother-in-law Allen had co-founded.
“I wanted to help Allen’s Closer to Earth composting project,” says Becky. “I helped on Saturdays and became a regular volunteer. I like learning about composting, I like the people and the inherent good they do. I enjoy the harvesting of the compost and learning about that.”
Becky worked with a friend to set up a composting bin at her church here in Oklahoma City. It helped raise consciousness of members there, who eventually, after moving to another location, worked with Fertile Ground. Members bring their kitchen scraps to church and drop them in a bin; Fertile Ground picks them up each week and composts them.
Before her move to Oklahoma in 2015, Becky worked in Mennonite Voluntary Service in the library and doing maintenance in Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and, prior to that, for the Center for Community Justice. She lived in the Mennonite Voluntary Service community in Elkhart. She is now retired from being a teacher’s aide and bus monitor here in Oklahoma City. Presently, she volunteers at Nappy Roots Books where she helped bring a beginning gardening class to children there.
Becky is taking a class on writing and writing a children’s book on the 1958 sit-ins in Oklahoma City. And, she’s back to backyard gardening: Her sister Lia gave her a tree circle as a gift. Surrounding a persimmon tree, growing there in a 10-foot circle are herbs, annuals, pollinator perennials and vegetables.
Becky, who volunteers faithfully in the composting operation at CommonWealth, understands deeply the value of healthy soil. And so, in her own backyard, she’s working on creating healthy soil there for her next backyard growing space, a pollinator garden.