For the Love of Grace

Grace Wicks grew up in an environment where locally grown, organic, fair trade food and respectful rural-urban relationships were the ingredients for success for one of the first farm-to-table restaurants in the country – the White Dog Café in Philadelphia. White Dog was where Grace’s mother, Judy Wicks, established her roots as an activist and entrepreneur engaging the community to build a more compassionate, regenerative and regionally-based economy.  

Grace went on to follow her passion for horticulture and founded Graceful Gardens driven by a vision of creating beautiful edible landscapes in urban niches that would form a connected web of gardens across the city. That expansive vision was implemented with modest means; she started her company with $1,500, most of it invested in a bicycle with a trailer to haul around tools and plants. From those humble beginnings, Grace developed a thriving business employing 13 people, instilling in her 200 clients – including chefs for whom she has developed rooftop gardens – an ecological ethos and a deeper appreciation for gardening.

Tragically, the lives of Grace and Judy have been disrupted drastically when Grace contracted West Nile Virus in 2022. The virus initially left her with brain damage, partially paralyzed and in severe chronic pain, unable to speak or feed herself and she still requires 24-hour care at home, which is predominantly provided by Judy.

After a long stay in the hospital and having been confined to bed and a wheelchair for 5 months, Grace is making steady progress. She is able to wheel herself around in a wheelchair, and she is spending some therapy time in a swimming pool and getting in-house physical, occupational and speech therapies.

But Grace’s insurance company abruptly dropped her health insurance coverage and the costs for tests, medications, therapy, and equipment – estimated at $250,000 per year – have created a financial crisis for both Grace and Judy. In addition to medical expenses, funds are needed to help pay for Grace’s mortgage and other living expenses until she can work again.

Judy Wicks is a long-time cherished member of the Bioneers community whose life and accomplishments are a continuing inspiration. Among the many awards that she has received for her work in creating standards and a model for sustainable businesses is the James Beard Humanitarian Award given to an organization or individual, “who has given selflessly and worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and society at large.”

In a recent update Judy described how she is adapting to her family crisis, “As to my repurposed role as caregiver, I am still practicing patience and establishing a new relationship with time. I no longer rush here and there, packing my days with meetings and tasks, but rather am appreciating the many small wonders of the day, being with my beautiful daughter and witnessing her blessed recovery. ” 

That recovery needs the generosity of a compassionate community to help Grace through these heartbreaking, arduous times. We urge you to visit the gofundme page and learn more. Please give what you can.

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