Vicki Nowicki is an award-winning vegetable gardener, a published author, a teacher and a devoted environmentalist.  She has led many groups with contagious enthusiasm and a spiritual presence.  Degreed in Horticulture, Environmental Studies, Environmental Education and Museum Exhibit Research and Design, she has focused her 30 year-career on homeowners, believing that part of the future of American agriculture could lie in the backyards of our suburban homes.  These tiny “farms” would require less fossil fuels and chemicals, would produce less waste, could be more diverse and would supply something that industrial ag will never give us:  happiness, self-satisfaction and family inter-action.

Her own business, The Liberty Gardens, provides a gardening service that designs, installs and maintains in succession vegetable gardens for clients who are trying to learn from A to Z the fine art of cultivating their own local, organic food.  Her crews go as far as harvesting the vegetables, sometimes the most difficult part of the process.

She and her husband, Ron Nowicki, Landscape Architect, also own and operate The Land Office, a design/build firm specializing in sustainable and permaculture landscapes.  Their home and office is a demonstration of a lifestyle honoring these permaculture principles where they give tours and teach classes on how to grow and store food, design suburban permaculture landscapes and much more.

In 2012, she was selected as a delegate to the International Slow Food Terra Madre Conference and traveled to Turin, Italy to meet with farmers from 151 countries.  Moved by her experience she has started The Liberty Gardens Project in 2013, meant to encourage homeowners to grow heirloom and heritage seeds in an effort to push back on the GMO foods.  Also in 2013 she has joined the adjunct faculty at College of Dupage and will be teaching their first ever class on organic vegetable production.

Ronald J. Nowicki is a Landscape Architect with a B.A from University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana.  He is also a certified Permaculture Designer.  Ron and his wife Vicki own The Land Office, a design/build landscape firm in Downers Grove, Illinois.  It is "Landscape Design and Construction With an Ecological Conscience."  In his 40 years of work with residential clients, his main focus has been to help families re-connect with the natural world through ecologically sustainable landscape design.  Ron uses diverse native, naturalistic and edible plantings which form communities that conserve energy and resources.  Families have responded to the beauty, serenity, integrity and security that this kind of landscape provides.  All of Ron and Vicki’s work is centered on the teachings of Aldo Leopold and his Land Ethic. Ron is an author, a teacher and a devoted environmentalist.


Ron and Vicki Nowicki had a dream in 1975 to build a “new” kind of lifestyle based on an “old” kind of common sense.  It is no longer a dream but a reality.

They did it right in the suburbs of Chicago.

In 1970, we became aware that humans were rapidly using up and degrading the planet. We decided that there was a need to demonstrate a sustainable way to live so that our grandchildren would inherit a livable planet and that we would leave a legacy of health, beauty, abundance and prosperity for all children.

After over 40 years of focused effort, with nature as our partner, we have evolved a sustainable and productive home site. It not only provides a richness of experience, not attainable through conventional design strategies, but also conserves limited fossil fuels and water, produces an abundance of food and increases biodiversity so essential for a balanced system.

We weren’t caught up in appearances or styles.  We simply wanted to design something based on principles that were modeled after the natural world and how it worked.  Interestingly, Ron found himself borrowing from history to design an energy-efficient, passive solar home.  He used a New England Salt Box design as a model of efficiency. He included an ice house roof for summer cooling, a central masonry fireplace, a wood stove fed by wood gathered primarily from assorted landscape jobs, a huge rain barrel and of course a root cellar for moist cold storage to accommodate a good portion of our summer crops.  With respect to the landscape, we used evergreen windbreaks to conserve energy in the winter and deciduous shade trees to cool the house in the summer.  Instead of mown lawn, we filled our landscape with native plants, perennial food plants and a expansive vegetable and herb garden.  When we began to plant flowers to attract beneficial insects, birds and bats, we dubbed our entire site a gardenfarm.  Who knew that 30 years later we would be described as the quintessential “poster children” for suburban permaculturists? Circle GardenFarm is now able to supply an almost year-round bounty of “local”, organic food.