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Pledge 1
Community Manager
Community Manager

Pledge 1%'s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way. 


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Ashley Irene

Culinary Garden Designer + Founder, Heirloom Potager

Santa Ana, CA, USA


What is your current role? Briefly describe in 1-2 sentences.


I am the lead garden designer, resident soil mover, and part-time plant grower for Heirloom Potager, an edible garden company that designs, installs, and maintains four-season culinary gardens for restaurants and food enthusiasts in Orange County, CA. As the owner of a growing business, my role varies by the day, but they all add up to creating something wonderful for the community.


What’s the best part of your job? What do you enjoy the most?


I love helping clients connect with their food and nature. Over a relatively short period of time, we've lost touch as a collective society with understanding the care and importance of being environmental stewards, not only for places like public parks and wildlife sanctuaries, but for our own yards. In my work, I'm allowed to express my love of nature and creativity by designing garden spaces that feel like a warm embrace - full of healthy, organically grown food. A hands-on place for learning, developing new skills, and growing an appreciate for how we nourish our mind, body, and soul.


We’ve all faced personal and professional challenges, especially during these past two years - what motivates you to keep going?


I founded Heirloom Potager after the loss of my mother. It was her last wishes that I create a future that brought joy into the world - however that might look. There is nothing more joyous (to me) than an edible garden. My fondest memories have been so often spent around a table sharing stories, creating memories, and simply enjoying life through great food. To be able to create that for our clients is simply the most amazing way to honor my mother and create a better future for the next generations.


What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?


The best advice I've ever received is really a way to interact with the world. On the other side of every email, phone call, and social profile is a person - with their own lives, stresses, and dreams - that is trying their best. I try to treat others the way I would like to be treated. To remind myself that if we treat each other humanely, with grace and dignity, that any problem in business can be resolved.


What does generosity mean to you?


To me, generosity is the responsibility of giving the best of you whenever you can to those in your community. Gardening is one of the most generous acts I can think of. Gardens create a home for nature and people. A space that brings life into the world to nourish, grow, and reflect. Generosity is also defined as abundance - which is the best word to describe a garden. An abundance of life, food, nature, and joy.


How do you feel businesses can play a larger role in solving today’s biggest challenges? Do you have any specific stories or examples from your work or colleagues you can share?


I believe businesses are the solution to today's biggest challenges. We have the resources and the responsibility to help be that solution that celebrates and prioritizes the well-being of our communities. Caring for our community is at the heart of what we do for Heirloom Potager. Designing edible landscapes with organic methods is rewarding for people and planet. We're honored that so many restaurants, businesses, and homeowners believe in our mission and a future where landscapes are delicious and beautiful.


What are you looking forward to this year? Are there any goals (personal or professional), activities, or experiences you are excited about?


We're looking forward to working on some amazing client projects, but we're most excited about continuing to support the hands-on learning experiences with local high school students teaching them about organic gardening, growing your own food, and the importance of saving heirloom seeds. Helping these future leaders tend to their gardens, harvest what they've grown, and teaching them how to cook healthy meals for their families is generosity in action.