Jane Heim, Founder of Spray Drift Education Network
Name: Jane Heim
Occupation: Activist, Writer, Organic farmer, Founder of Spray Drift Education Network in Illinois, Permaculture “Restoration Agriculture” advocate
Place of Residence: Near Paw Paw, Ill.
Background and Personal History: Jane's early years were spent on a state-of-the-art dairy farm (the first Iowa farm in many counties to buy a “blue glass silo”) with a conservation-minded, ecological chiropractor father who instilled in her the importance of healthy soil and a love of sustainable farming. It was from these beginnings that Jane realized that everyone has the right to have land and gardens free of chemicals, if they so choose. She then began to advocate for everyone’s right to have property free of invading chemicals.
Jane graduated from DePauw University in the era of the hippies, which seemed to go right over her head. However, her desire to “get back to the land,” resulted in her lawyer husband, Jack, and her purchasing 19 vacant acres with an old gravel pit pond outside of Naperville, Ill., in 1973, which they used as a “second place.” Their sons, JJ and Jeff, were born in the 70s. Jack passed away in 1997, JJ passed away in 2006. Jeff and wife, Angela, have triplets who were born in 2011. Katie, Chloe and Jack are the greatest gifts to Jane! (“Grandchildren complete life’s circle of love.”) Owning “The Land” for 40 years, Jane built a small cottage on the property in 2000 and now lives here full-time.
Current Projects: Besides being very involved with Spray Drift Education Network, Jane is absolutely smitten with the “new” permaculture, as shown in Mark Shepard’s book Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers. She looks forward to restoring The Land into a permaculture-influenced, thriving ecological farm. Along with readers of her personal blog, Jane follows the process - all the ups and downs of restoring a disturbed soil farm. Fortunately, she has several acres of grown trees — some walnuts, apples, pears, mulberries and wild cherries. She will be adding all kinds of nut trees and shrubs, more fruit trees, berries and grapes. She is so excited about this project! Jane also looks forward to spending as much time as she can with her grandchildren, unfortunately too far away!
Other Fun Facts: Jane loves to create different expeditions and organizations. She originated the First Cherry Creek Distance Learning Pilot Project in 1989-90 with Cherry Creek Schools in Denver. This semester-long project included traveling 20,000 miles in a van throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico with JJ and Jeff, then in 10th and 6th grades, respectively. During this 4-month trip, JJ and Jeff tele-communicated with their schools in suburban Denver, a very imaginative and visionary trip at the time. Jane also originated and undertook the Risktaker Expedition down the North Platte River. In the late 1990s, she created and developed the Organic Education Center for Oregon Tilth in partnership with the City of Lake Oswego, Ore. Her latest origination with Anita and Brian Poeppel has been Spray Drift Education Network.
In past decades, The Woman’s Advocate awarded Jane the first “Outstanding Working Women’s Exceptional Achievement Award.” Cosmopolitan magazine chose Jane as their “Career Woman of the Month.”
Jane wrote and published the following books: The Directory of Working Women; What to Do When the Stock Market Falls; Car Living: How to Make It a Successful, Sane, Safe Experience; and Car Living: Stories and Practical Tips From Those Who Have Been Down the Road.
She loves to write articles and books, dig in the soil, and prune trees and shrubs like crazy.
More Places to Find Jane on the Web:
Photo by Dave Haury