My name is Zoe Meade and I am from Palmer, Alaska. My grandparents came to Alaska in the 1950’s and homesteaded in the Knik River Valley which is where my husband and I are building our home now. The Valley has always been my home. My family, my work, and my heart is here!
While in college I took an Arctic botany field course and spent 10 days driving up the Dalton Highway observing the vegetation and how it changed as we increased in latitude. This class sparked my interest in Alaska’s native vegetation. I have worked in the environmental field since my graduation in 2008 and participated in fish, wetland, and water quality jobs but it was vegetation work that I grew to love. In recent years I’ve worked exclusively as a field botanist helping perform vegetation surveys and floristic inventories across the state. I’ve been fortunate to spend more and more time in the Arctic where the plants are hearty and unique. When my son was born in 2014 I transitioned into seasonal work in the summers and took the winter’s off to stay home with him.
During the 2020 field season my usual field work was canceled due to the pandemic and that is when Wild Sleepy Roots began. With my family’s encouragement I finally had time to collect, press, and create and the income it provided helped alleviate the loss of my annual summer employment. My work outside the home is scientific based, full of logic and Latin names, it is rigid in its procedures. I’ve always enjoyed pressing plants so this business has been a creative outlet for me, especially during the long winter months. Being able to create and share my art and love of plants with others has been intensely gratifying. I’m humbled how my art has been received and the interest shown.
My business has begun to form a cycle. Summers are spent gathering and pressing plants. I have several large and small plant presses that I fill and rotate plants through. I gather most near my home in the Knik River Valley but also collect many plants while out camping with my family or on work trips. I almost always have a plant press and collection tube nearby. In the fall I organize the dried plants into folders, label them for use and restock my supply inventory. The rest of fall is spent preparing for winter holiday markets. I take a few months off after the holidays and then begin working again to prepare for spring and summer wholesale orders and markets. Working to preserve plants in resin has been a journey. It’s taken patience and lots of sticky mistakes to get to the rhythm I now have.