Finding Joy in the Garden

I’m not a green thumb and no one has ever accused me of being a gardener, but I’ve definitely been spending more time with my hands in the dirt and bit-by-bit started finding joy in the garden.

Over time, my experience in the garden has changed. Before we made this move, our garden was comprised of three small raised beds — each of them was four feet square. It felt like a lot of work and honestly, it didn’t go well.

finding joy in the garden, Fermes Leystone, Leystone Farms ,Pontiac, Nurture, Karri Munn-Venn, Trefor Munn-Venn, craft vinegar, city to country, sheep, Wool pellets, honey

Most of the time it felt like an exercise in failure. We’d get a few tomatoes, more greens than we could ever eat, and the occasional carrot. That wasn’t very long ago.

finding joy in the garden, Fermes Leystone, Leystone Farms ,Pontiac, Nurture, Karri Munn-Venn, Trefor Munn-Venn, craft vinegar, city to country, sheep, Wool pellets, honey

We have a number of gardens now and there’s nowhere I’m happier than when I’m in what we call the Family Garden. These were the first raised beds we put in when we moved to the farm. 

Based on my gardening track record, I was part nervous and part sceptical as we built these large raised beds. But we felt it was important and decided to take the leap. 

I knew that I’d have to take a different approach or I would just be magnifying my previous disappointment by an order of magnitude.

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed in the garden and to feel pressure to grow things that just don’t make sense for your own family. So with these gardens, we took a different approach. It’s simple, but it’s really worked.


Grow things you’re going to eat

That may sound obvious but you wouldn’t believe how many radishes I’ve grown that have never been eaten. As time goes by, we have focused our decisions about what to grow largely around what we want to eat. 

Potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets are among our favourites. In the winter, as we plan our Family Garden, the question we ask is not “What should we plant?” but “What do we want to eat?” It’s a conversation where each of us has a voice to shape our diet, express our preferences, and be more deliberate about what we’re going to consume. 

finding joy in the garden, Fermes Leystone, Leystone Farms ,Pontiac, Nurture, Karri Munn-Venn, Trefor Munn-Venn, craft vinegar, city to country, sheep, Wool pellets, honey

Grow things that are beautiful

We need more joy and beauty, not just more work. We agreed that if we were going to work this hard — and it’s been hard — it’s at least going to be beautiful. 

That means we grow plants that delight us like sunflowers and marigolds. We grow herbs outside our bedroom windows that smell glorious especially when it rains. 

We have our fabulous gourd tunnel that creates an absolutely immersive experience where we are surrounded by many of our climbing plants including cucumbers, peas, beans and, yes, gourds 

Grow things you can make things out of

There are some things in the garden we don’t eat but we love to grow because we use them in other ways. 

Birds nest gourds are a favourite because they look so cool! We look forward to drying them and turning them into bird houses and old-school water bottles. 

We also grow loofah — yup, it’s a plant and you can make your own loofah sponges from them!! Honestly, I always thought loofah were some kind of sea creature — turns out they’re a garden creature. I had no idea. 

Being able to not just consume what’s in the garden but turn what we grow into things we can use in our home is rewarding on an entirely different level.

Before gardening, humans could hunt and gather. That’s how we survived. The creation of a garden — deliberately planting the seeds from the plants that had been gathered — was an extraordinary act that changed everything. 

It created more certainty about where to find food and more stability about what food would be available and when. Gardens made us active participants in the production of food rather than collectors of food. And it still does.

Ask almost anyone who gardens and they’ll tell you that nothing tastes as good as what you grow yourself. 

We hope you get your hands in the dirt soon.

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