Wait, Smith Join Unique Places To Save Leadership Team


October 17, 2018 (CHAPEL HILL, NC) Unique Places To Save, an entrepreneurial non-profit focused on sustainable farming, land conservation, creative placemaking, and nature education, is pleased to announce the additions of Rebecca Wait and Ryan Smith to its leadership team.

Rebecca Wait joins Unique Places To Save as Director of Horticulture based at the organization’s Keith Arboretum property in rural Orange County. The arboretum, curated for over 40 years by original owner Dr. Charles Keith, is a North Carolina treasure with more than 3,500 distinct species of temperate, woody trees and shrubs

In her role at Unique Places To Save, Ms. Wait will propagate and cultivate one of the nation’s largest collections of temperate woody species in ways that are harmonious with the arboretum’s surroundings. Along with this responsibility, she will join the Unique Places To Save staff equally focused on educating groups visiting Keith Arboretum, especially students from nearby schools, on topics like native species and their international counterparts, arboretum pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and more. She will also assist in the use of the arboretum as a living lab for innovating the use of virtual reality technology for botanical education.

In addition to her deep knowledge of native and non-native ornamental plants, Ms. Wait has developed expertise in organic and sustainable farming practices, including greenhouse management, that are central to the mission of Unique Places To Save.  She comes to the organization fresh off of a stint as assistant horticulturist at NC State University’s Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh.

Prior to her time at Raulston, Ms. Wait served as a farmer and educator at Durham’s Hub Farm.

She owned and operated Bahama’s Little Sprout Farm, selling produce through a 30-member CSA and the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market.

Rebecca Wait holds a bachelor of arts degree in environmental education from Earlham College, as well as a master’s degree in landscape architecture, with minor in horticulture science, from NC State.

“With Becca Wait’s skills and passion for horticulture and education, we know we have found the right person to manage Keith Arboretum and help leads its transition from an exceptional private collection to a legacy asset for the community,” said Executive Director David Harper. “We were also enamored with her entrepreneurial spirit, her combination of knowledge and practice, and her experience in running her own sustainable farm. Our visitors will enjoy Becca’s work in the months and years to come, as she showcases the beauty and abundance of Keith Arboretum, and offers innovative botanical education experiences in the collection.”


Ryan Smith has joined Unique Places To Save as the organization’s land steward charged with managing strategic conservation and sustainable farming investments at Keith Arboretum nearby Honeysuckle Farm.

In his role as land steward, Mr. Smith is responsible for managing production of a rich variety of naturally-grown berries, herbs, and flowers at Honeysuckle Farm and assisting with management of the Keith Arboretum and Forest. He also leads agroecology education tours from the Honeysuckle Tea House, highlighting the cycle of life on the farm. Ryan’s tours offer visitors to experience the high level of care he gives to the beehives hosted there for Bee Downtown (www.beedowntown.com), the hundreds of antioxidant-rich berries, and over 50 beds of herbal tea plants and cut flowers. Each tour ends with a delicious sample of a tea or smoothie that Ryan helped to cultivate, from farm-to-beverage. 

Mr. Smith comes to Unique Places To Save with an array of experience in the food and beverage industry, working in retail environments at Whole Foods Market in Raleigh, farming at Piedmont BioFarm in Pittsboro, and his studies at Central Carolina Community College.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Ryan Smith join our team at Unique Places To Save,” said Executive Director David Harper. “Not only does he have great experience in key areas for our organization, like land management, conservation techniques, sustainable food and beverage production, Ryan also understands the value of cultivating connectivity between people and the land that sustains us all. His central role with us is producing great herbs and berries and leading tours and tastings for visitors to experience Honeysuckle Farm as a living part of a healthy local food system.”

For more information on Unique Places To Save and its entrepreneurial work to create and preserve the places that make communities more sustainable and livable, visit www.uniqueplacestosave.org.

Media Contact

Christina Vad, Associate Director