COCHRANE— Planting seeds to help Cochranites grow their green thumb, a local gardener is digging in to making vegetable gardens accessible.
Backyard Harvest Project founder Callandra Caufield hears from people all the time lamenting they cannot garden or have a “black thumb.” For many gardening can often be overwhelming and her goal is to make creating a home garden accessible.
The Backyard Harvest Project provides basic skills and confidence to help people get started and experiment with growing vegetables in the dirt.
“A lot of what I talk about is you will kill many plants,” Caufield said with a laugh. “But, it is empowering to experiment, have fun and get excited about little successes.”
Caufield is hosting a class called The Beginner Kitchen Garden on May 15. The one-day course is centred on people who have an interest in growing their own food but are unsure where to start, or have begun gardening and are looking for tips and tricks.
Caufield said she will cover designing a potager garden— A French vegetable garden.
“The French vegetable garden was always created, not just a place where you go to harvest food, but an enjoyable place,” Caufield said. “It is a place that you go to enjoy.”
She encourages those growing an edible garden to include vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.
Caufield will help people plan a garden based on what they would like to do and provides ideas on how to make it happen. She will also touch on how to prepare soil, different garden styles, growing without raised beds and what vegetables grow well in Cochrane.
“The focus is for people to come and learn how to enjoy gardening— It’s about the process, not the results,” Caufield said. “It’s about having fun.”
She added growing your own food has never been more popular. Caufield said an additional benefit of growing a personal vegetable garden is it can help with water resource management and the food supply change.
The road to embracing home gardening can be a long and winding journey.
Caufield is a former wedding planner and at a networking event was asked what she did for fun.
“I couldn’t answer, I worked for fun,” Caufield said with a chuckle. “I decided I’m going to learn how to garden.”
She has spent years developing the garden on her property and through her work with Alberta Food Tours she met many farmers and was able to learn about practicing permaculture.
Her gardening reached a new level when COVID-19 hit and she was able to complete an online course with Verge Permaculture.
The class inspired her to launch a gardening business centred on permaculture and mental health.
“The principles of permaculture tell us that diversity brings resiliency,” Caufield said.
While this idea applied to plants, Caufield felt it was the perfect metaphor for her career and life.
She explained everything she did for work was negatively affected by the pandemic and she felt gardening serves as an opportunity to find positivity through her garden.
She hopes to inspire people to engage in the gardening process and helping people feel confident and have different tools to engage in the process of gardening.
It can be meditative working on one’s garden because it offers a chance to slow down and unwind.
It has been comforting being able to follow the life cycle and seasons of plants. Has become especially meaningful during COVID-19 and knowing predictability and reliability can be found in her garden.
“Whether or not they grow anything that’s totally up to them,” Caufield said. “The whole point is there can be a lot that you learn from working with plants.”