Skip Main Navigation
Page Content

Mark Lyons, a.k.a. “The Garden Troubadour” is a master gardener, home cheesemaker, home mushroom grower, and musical entertainer. Based in Palatine, IL, Mark delivers dynamic presentations on vegetable gardening, harvest preservation, home cheesemaking, and home mushroom growing, all flavored with his warm delivery, dry wit, and even a song or two.

Mark became interested in gardening at a young age when his parents allowed him to “sharecrop” a portion of their vegetable garden. His first garden success came at age 10 when he was featured in an article in The Daily Herald for growing a foot long, two and a half pound cucumber. In 2003, he began helping friends and family plant and cultivate their vegetable gardens, a practice which, in 2011, he turned into Green Thumb at Your Service, a business devoted to inspiring people to become independently healthy by coaching them on how to grow their own food.

Mark’s interest in cheesemanking was kindled during a two week vacation in Vermont in 2005. While strolling through the gift shop at one of the working farms, he found the book Home Cheesemaking, by Ricki Carroll. Mark purchased the book, went home, and made his first batch of mozzarella. Although his first efforts were far from a rousing success, Mark made vast improvements in skill and technique and soon went on to make a wide variety of different cheeses, including Manchego, Parmesan, Romano, Cabra al Vino, Feta, and many others.

Mark began growing mushrooms in 1998, when he purchased a portabella mushroom kit. He has since gone on to grow a wide variety of mushrooms including, oyster, shitake, and enokitake. On one of his attempts, he failed to get anything to grow, however, the unsuccessful effort inspired him to write a song entitled, “Like a Mushroom.”

As a musical entertainer, Mark plays guitar, ukulele, and washboard, and specializes in out-of-the ordinary tunes (also known as songs that haven't been done to death) which he combines with his offbeat sense of humor. His musical style is a mix of country-western, bluegrass, 50’s-70’s pop and rock ‘n’ roll, novelty tunes, and even an occasional song in a foreign language. He is a regular at the Woodstock Folk Festival in Woodstock, IL, where he emcees the open mic, and the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering in Battle Ground, IN, where he leads their children’s concert and teaches musical workshops

Mark travels all around the country teaching classes and giving presentations at schools, libraries, public parks, community events, and garden clubs. His most fun and most unique presentation was when he combined both a gardening presentation and a musical performance on the children’s stage of Frontier Days, Arlington Heights, Illinois’ annual Independence Day festival.


I was born in Chicago, IL, grew up in Arlington Heights, IL, and currently reside in Palatine, IL

2003:     Developed my very first vegetable garden (as a favor to a friend)

2007:     Began leading the Children’s Concert at the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering in Battle Ground, IN

2011:     Created Green Thumb at Your Service
Gave my very first vegetable gardening presentation at the Palatine Public Library
Began teaching community education classes at Harper College, Township High School Districts 211 and 214, and various park districts

2014:     Gave first presentation outside of Illinois – at the

Save This Event

Event Saved