News & Updates

FACES of Agriculture - Paula Blakley
May 9, 2017 by: Lesley Gooding
FACES of Agriculture - Paula Blakley

FACES of Champaign County Agriculture

Meet Paula Blakley, born and bred in Champaign County, an avid gardener that turned her passion into a career!  Paula is the retail manager at FS Farmtown in Urbana, IL.  Paula is your go to person for any and all gardening advice. 

Several years ago, Paula took her first design class at Parkland College with Kiazad Irani.  This class led Paula to complete an A.A.S. degree in Horticulture; landscape design, construction and maintenance.  Prior to coming to FS Farmtown in 2005, Paula owned her own maintenance company for five years and then worked at a local nursery as a grower and salesperson. 

A non-active Master Gardener, Paula has a passion for vegetable gardening!  She says “My husband is an excellent chef and is required to cook, can or process anything I grow! He did refuse to cook the Cardoon that I grew last year. (It is in the artichoke family, it has thorns and prickers on its spine and is hard to process)”

When Paula isn’t gardening for helping others create beautiful landscape spaces she can be found completing her B.A. in general studies (only 9 hours left to go)!  Paula is also a firearms enthusiast, “I am very involved in various shooting sports including trap, rifle, pistol, and tactical. I am currently on a Women’s Pistol League.”

Do you need advice on what should go in your garden or how to design some landscape spaces?  You can catch Paula as a guest panelist on the local Mid-American Gardener Show which airs on WILL (channel 12).  Guest panelists answer questions from viewers!

If you are itching to get in the garden be sure to check out FS Farmtown!  Champaign County Farm Bureau Members receive a 10% discount. 

A topic that FS Farmtown customers want to know more about is pollinators!  Paula is a wealth of information on this topic. Here are some basics…

  • Pollinators need two essential things.A place to nest and flowers to collect nectar and pollen.When we create small areas in our garden it helps improve the environment for not only bees, but other pollinators like flys and butterflies.

  • By planting native plants – you are supporting native bees, honey bees, and many of these plants also

  • Leave the debris. Bees make nests in which they brood cells for their offspring. In many modern landscapes, our desire for neatness has resulted in the removal of bare ground, dead trees, and untidy corners of rough grass—all important nesting sites for bees. Leave a corner of your yard for a natural habitat.

  • Once again Farmtown will carry Mason Bee Houses.They will also have a children’s program scheduled during the month of JUNE to educate and create beneficial environments for bees.

  • We will also be monitoring the pollinator plot that was planted last spring on property North of High Cross Road Art Studio, 1101 N. High Cross Rd. West Side of Street.

  • Farmtown has Pollinator Pots for retail sale.These are ceramic pots filled with combinations of Herbs, Perennials or Annuals.

  • And you can’t forget the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension and their promotion of Pollinator Pockets.