An avid gardener, bird watcher and cyclist, Julie Skopal is passionate about plants. She’s been working in the produce department at Astoria Co+op for more than three years.
“I’m proud to work at the co-op,” Julie said. “I love all of my coworkers; my customers keep my day lively.”
She’s been gardening since she could walk, picking flowers to put up on the windowsill in her childhood home when she was a little girl. She received her environmental degree from Sonoma State University. There, she learned that without thriving ecosystems we’ll never have a healthy earth. Organic, healthy living is a good start.
Julie previously worked in native plant and horticultural nurseries. She also did restoration work at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, primarily removing invasive plants like pampas grass and French broom.
“It was hard, wonderful work for such a good cause,” she said.
She and her husband moved from Sonoma County, California to Astoria when her husband got a job with the county. Finding a job at the co-op, Julie decided that the closest thing to working with plants in Astoria was to work in the produce department.
She said she appreciates the beauty of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers she works with.
“Everything is unique in its own way, the beautiful colors and textures,” Julie said. “It’s a feast for the eyes and the senses and I really enjoy that.”
The co-op keeps seasonal flowers and plants in stock, so soon Julie will be displaying fall mums. She recently got a big delivery of fall blooming perennials that are attractive to beneficial insects.
“As everything is connected, we would not have the produce and plants that we have without the beneficial insects and pollinators, so we need to keep the outside world as healthy as we try to keep ourselves,” Julie said.
She added she loves getting to witness the seasonal changes, starting with the wonderful produce of spring and transitioning into summer, fall and winter.
Some of the produce she enjoys during this time of year include grapes and yellow peaches.
“I’m eyeing the winter squash that’s coming in, so there’s anticipation for fall,” Julie said. “It’s like when you wait for a holiday when you’re a kid and get excited as you get closer to it.”
Her future goals are to bring in more beneficial and native plants.
“I’m thrilled to work with the little garden and nursery section we have here. I’m happy to help with plant questions if anyone sees me out there working and wants to talk,” she added.
She bikes or walks her four-mile commute to work practically every day.
“For me, I feel that there is no reason to use a car and contribute to one of the causes of climate change,” Julie said. “As the saying goes, ‘Be part of the solution, not the problem.’”
She and her husband enjoy vacations that include alternative forms of transportation, especially cycling. They pedaled their way through England and Scotland on a bike tour, and have done a thousand-mile bike trip from British Columbia to California.
“The longest day was 100 miles with the steepest hill at the end,” Julie said. “I didn’t think I’d make it but darn it, I wasn’t giving in!”