About SymbiOp

A Company For People and Planet

Worker-owned · Value-led · Mission-driven

SymbiOp started off as a one-person landscaping business, operated by one of our co-founders, Nutmeg. We have grown significantly over the years. On Oct 1st, 2021, we also opened an ecological garden shop, using our plant expertise to make ecological gardening even more accessible to the greater community. Our workers have 10+ years of experience cultivating ecological landscapes, and even more years of experience with plant care in general. We come from a multitude of identities and backgrounds. You can learn more about each worker in the biography section below.

The name SymbiOp stands for Symbiosis Cooperative. We picked that name because we value the idea of symbiosis – a mutually beneficial relationship for all participants. We apply this value not only in the work we do, by cultivating plants and landscapes that are beneficial to our customers, our communities, and the greater ecosystems, but also in how we govern our company, as a worker cooperative, an employee-owned company.

Having a voice and stake in the company enables our workers to work symbiotically. We have a supportive and fun work environment. We strive to be inclusive, equitable, and compassionate. You can read what that means for us in the frequently asked questions section below.

Symbiosis is not just a product that we produce. It is a value that we believe in. We value it so much that we put it in our bylaws. This means we are bound by laws to consider our social and ecological impacts as much if not more than our financial gains.

Frequently Asked Questions

Owner Biographies

Gardeners · Artists · Scientists · Planet Stewards

System Engineer / Business Developer

As a kid, JT spent many hours learning about the earth and the universe, despite growing up in the concrete jungle of Shanghai, China. After moving to the United States and getting his degree in Physics, he dedicated his life in creating resilient systems, be them ecological systems, social systems, business systems, or computer systems. During his free time, JT likes to write essays and fictions, produce music, go camping, and practice Tibetan Buddhism. He credits Tibetan Buddhism for his initial understanding and commitment to interdependence and non-duality, which later on led him to study more regenerative practices and system science. JT is one of the three original founders of SymbiOp. Checkout his blog post detailing the founding journey!

Lead Landscape Designer

Born and raised on the west coast, Nutmeg has deep connections to the local ecosystems. Her passion drove her to study ecological landscape design and later on create her own landscaping business. She has also developed a line of sustainable herbal products using the plants she cultivated. Nutmeg is one of the three original founders of SymbiOp. During her free time, Nutmeg likes to tend her garden, cook, write music, and volunteer for social/environmental justice organizations.

Lead Landscape Designer

Matt started his career in the conventional landscaping industry many years ago. However, he soon got tired of the unsustainable practices and toxic culture of that industry. As a member of the Metis Nation of British Columbia, it became more and more important for him to reconnect with his Indigenous lineage, restore his relationship with the land, and educate people on the importance of traditional ecological knowledge. He has since studied from Indigenous elders from all over the world, and has been practicing regenerative land management ever since. Before joining SymbiOp, Matt operated an ecological landscaping and nursery business that was featured in local publications. After joining SymbiOp, he was instrumental in the creation and expansion of our garden shop and landscaping operation. He currently works as one of our lead landscape designers. During his free time, Matt enjoys spending time tending his garden , exploring the nooks and crannies of new neighborhoods by bike and getting lost in the woods with his husband and dogs.

Project Coordinator / Client Support

Lotus's relationship with nature started with teaching outdoor education to kids for many summers, helping them to connect to nature and understand their impact. She is passionate about building communities for the benefit of humans and nature. This is why outside of SymbiOp, she also serves on the boards of two community nonprofits in Portland. During her free time, Lotus likes to practice Tibetan Buddhism, read, write, and volunteer for animal shelters and social/environmental justice organizations. Lotus is one of the three original founders of SymbiOp.

Project Coordinator / Corporate Administrator

Khalila is a Palestinian American, and is the first generation on her fathers side to be born in the United States. She has been gardening for years, but wasn't familiar with regenerative practices before SymbiOp. Incorporating these new practices into her own garden has been very rewarding. She believes in strengthening her community, whether through crisis counseling or trash cleanup.  During her free time, she enjoys game nights with friends, bouldering, and having outdoor adventures with her child. Khalila joined the founding team very early on, and is instrumental to our early growth.

Landscape Maintenance Lead / Nursery Lead (she/they)

Dawn experienced the evolution of gardening. Starting with growing food organically and composting while renting, Progressing to native plants and anything free or sickly unwanted plants in the discount bin. Noticing pollinators steer clear of some fancy hybrids. So many single species didn't feel right. Now she prefers native habitat gardening and growing food. Encouraging others to grow native habitats by propagating plants to share. She also loves taking photos in her SE yard to show what folks are missing out on by not having native plants in a restorative landscape. Favorite volunteer gigs: Multnomah County Animal Shelter, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Solve Oregon, Adult Adoptee Support.

Garden Shop Lead (she/her)

Casey was born on the Big Island of Hawai'i and has been immersed in nature and horticulture her whole life in some way, shape, or form. She grew up in the nursery world and comes from many generations of Asian-American farmers. While she had pursued a life/pathway in art all the way through her undergraduate studies, she took an interest in hobby gardening in college and has been passionate about growing organic food and building food resiliency ever since. She now spends her free time tending to her own garden, bug or bird watching, and helping all of her friends establish edible or native gardens.

Senior Crew Lead (he/him)

Jonathan has been loving native plants and regenerative eco-systems since hearing about "permaculture" in 2005 after moving to Portland from Virginia. After various training, he started his own Edible-forest-gardening business in 2012, which expanded to include Greywater systems before joining with SymbiOp. Jonathan holds a fascination with the intersection of human and plant worlds and the vital potency of all things water-related. He also co-stewards an intentional eco-village cooperative in SE Portland as his home for 11 years. In his free time, he loves communing with garden fairies and playing acoustic music with friends.

Landscape Crew Lead & Street Art Lead (he/him)

Kirk resides on the settled lands of the Chinook (Portland, OR). For the past 10 years, he did placemaking, affordable housing, reuse, and naturescaping work, especially for historically marginalized communities. He was also trained in fine art and art as social practice, and created safe space for queer and minority creatives, such as Latino Art Now! and Not Enough! When not working at SymbiOp, Kirk likes to volunteer his time and skill with local community non-profits such as Afro Village PDX, Tin Can Phone, Master Recyclers of Color, Sabin CDC, etc.

Garden Shop Lead (she/her)
Instagram Lead & Shop Worker (they/them)

Prospective Owner Biographies

More coming soon!

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