Project Overview: Calumet Region Seed Bombs

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Read about the place and process that led to our
LIMITED EDITION: Calumet Region Seed Bombs


Tryon Farm is a truly special place. If you are inspired by the beauty of nature, the details of architecture, or the warmth of community – Tryon Farm offers all that and more. No wonder it captured our hearts and creative energies while residing there during October 2015.

When at Tryon Farm, we stayed at a quaint little copper-shingle cottage known throughout the property as “Tree House”. It was one of the first homes built on the development. Let us just say that it lived up to its name! For a month we’re perched in the woodland forest with breathtaking views of a sunny meadow. We listened to the crickets every evening and the songbirds every morning – evidence that the landscape was alive and well.


During our time there, we learned about the various ecosystems on the 120 acres and watched the seasons change. What a treat! We learned that this cluster development epitomizes the ecological health of the Calumet Region and that it is possible to balance a contemporary housing development and a healthy ecological system. We also discovered this symbiotic balance is possible because of a non-profit organization called Tryon Farm Institute (TFI). We fell in love! In love with the idea of TFI and the idea of using seed bombs to invite all personal properties in the Calumet Region to contribute to ecosystem health.



tryon farm seed bomb diagram-01

The Calumet Region is located along the southern rim of Lake Michigan, including the greater Chicago area. While it is dominated by urban and industrial development it also has pockets of rich natural habitat including  the National Lakeshore and Dunes State Park in Indiana. The Calumet Region is considered an ecotone, which is a unique condition where different ecosystems merge together. The broadleaf deciduous forests to the north, the lakefront dune landscape, and the midwest prairie all come together to define the very special Calumet Region. The existing protected ecosystems found throughout the Calumet Region, including Tryon Farm, are robust and diverse and include short grass prairies, wetlands, woodlands, and sedge meadows.



We not only studied the Calumet Region, but also the individual ecosystems, focusing  on the ecosystems present at Tryon Farm. There, we found short grass prairies, wetlands, woodlands, and sedge meadows. These four ecosystems ultimately established the four custom seed bomb varieties available through this partnership. We painstakingly studied the ecosystems and curated the best combinations of plant species for each ecosystem. We thought about everything! What species will be hardy and reliable? What species is available from local distributors? What species will look good together? What combination will offer the longest bloom time? What types of birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters will be attracted to each species? Then, we had the species combinations validated by a landscape designer and a horticulturalist.

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Our process did not end there. We worked with TFI to understand the ideal number to produce, price point, and distribution strategy. Needless to say, we had a lot to coordinate for this product launch. But, we honestly can’t wait to do it all again for another TFI project or new fundraising project.



We defined three goals for this project – (1) provide easy-to-grow native mix seed bombs to folks around the Calumet Region in order to stitch together fragmented ecosystems, (2) provide a digital venue for people to connect about their progress, and (3) fundraise for Tryon Farm Institute to support all their projects and programs.


We anticipate that our limited edition seed bombs will result over an acre of critical habitat in the areas that need it the most. We hope that participants will use the social media platform to connect to each other as well as to Tryon Farm Institute for exciting projects and programs. And, we estimate the sale of these limited-edition seed bombs will also contribute significant and much-need fundraising dollars to their resources.



Like we mentioned, we derived so much experience and satisfaction working with TFI on this custom product launch that we cannot wait to do it again. Do you have a favorite nonprofit needing a fundraising jolt of energy? Do you live in a region completely different and want to develop custom seed bombs for your area? We would love to hear your ideas and work with you to make your projects great!


hour of reminiscing: Glen Aulin


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Our National Parks are a great example of how place connects us. They connect us to our collective past and to the majesty of the natural environment, but also to each other.

The first National Park that I ever visited was Yosemite. It came pretty late in the father-son trips that made up my childhood, but certainly took things to a whole new level. Neither of us had done any significant backpacking before this trip or spent much time in the mountain wilderness resembling anything close to the Sierra Nevadas.

It’s a good thing my dad is a planner by nature. Him being unprepared is a rarity. The planning phase of our Yosemite trip probably started a year from when we arrived. It included enough research to write a doctoral thesis and involved a strategy that felt more like preparing for battle than going on vacation. Continue reading

a new face

anne and michaelFrom the beginning, VisuaLingual has resisted the tendency to limit its creative outcomes, and true to that inception, it continues to evolve. What started as a loose design practice somehow pivoted into an explosive seed bomb business almost 8 years ago. Both aspects of the business continue to be important, but as with all things and people, the evolutions continue.

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VisuaLingual 2015 Gift Guide (BEER EDITION)

Our annual gift guide is here!


Well, the start of it at least. Over the next few weeks we’re going to share a series of gift guides for all variety of gift giving. Hopefully a few of the items on our lists are perfect for someone you’re shopping for, or maybe its just the perfect gift to give yourself. Some of these items are definitely on our wish list.

To start it off here are a few gifts for the beer drinker in your life or the host who you know appreciates a good brew.

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Having our work included in a publication never gets old. It is especially great when that means learning about a publication that celebrates our own backyard. Driftless is a beautiful display of food, art and adventuring in the Midwest. The current issue is a continuation of excellent coverage of the assets of an often overlooked region. Featuring beautiful imagery and great writing Driftless reminds us of the value of holding a printed publication in our hands. Get cozy next to a fire this winter with a copy. Find one near you or order one online at

Pages from Driftless Issue 4 Working Proof