My name is Mary Jane, and I write Home for the Harvest. I have lots of help around the garden from my husband, who also takes many of the photos on this site. Also helping me along the way are my wonderful friends, mentors, and teachers.
This website serves to share about living a healthier life through organic gardening, choosing clean plant-based products, making nourishing food, and connecting with nature on a daily basis. Come along as I create a healthy and productive home on our little lot of land.
I was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan Valley could be described as Canada’s California. There are numerous wineries, orchards, farms, and beaches. It was a wonderful place to grow up….so wonderful, in fact, that I returned to live in the valley when I was 25. I had missed the fresh peaches in July, the artisanal cheeses, the familiar faces at the Farmer’s Markets, and most of all, my family.
I had originally left the valley to go to school in Vancouver. I studied engineering and worked as a student for the regional district in the drinking water reservoir monitoring department. I got to trek through the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, taking readings and observing the hillsides. I loved being immersed in nature on a regular basis.
Like many young engineers, I eventually began working in remote site locations up north. I didn’t know how spoilt I was in the Okanagan until I starting working up north. Due to the isolation of the worksites, fresh food as I knew it simply wasn’t available. The food in our work camps and grocery stores was either pre-packaged, processed, or well past its prime by the time it got to our plates. I felt trapped in a sea of processed cheese and hot dog buns. I honestly had cravings for lettuce! Something needed to change.
Making a Change
I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to buy what I wanted: fresh, high-quality food. Through desperation followed by trial-and-error, I slowly learned how to grow small crops of nutritious food for myself. I started with sprouts, moved up to microgreens, and eventually to patio container gardening.
Once I learned to grow some of my own food, I realized how much more delicious, healthy, and high-quality homegrown food can be. There was simply nothing I could find or buy that was of a higher quality, given that we were too far north for farms.
After realizing how much better the small amount of food I was growing was in comparison to anything else available, I began to examine the other items in my little home.
I spent two years going through everything that came into my house, examining it to get a better understanding of what it was made of and what consequences those ingredients might have. I’m not a health professional or a professional shopper, but I do love me some research.
Some information was very easy to find, but some things took months to research. That’s why I’ve started this blog – so that if you have the questions I had…you’ll have the answers sooner. The sooner you have answers, the sooner you can make adjustments towards a healthier home.
My garden has been a key part of building a healthy home ever since my first countertop garden in my little northern condo. I haven’t yet been able to find food or flowers that are fresher or healthier anywhere else. Having moved south, my garden has expanded since that first little jars of sprouts up north. My husband and I now live in a heritage home with lots of room in the yard for both edible plants and beautiful flowers.
Why I Garden
- Starting my edible garden was my first step towards truly owning my food. I now have complete confidence that my produce is truly organic and free from toxic chemicals. It is “real food”.
- Fresh, homegrown fruit, vegetables, and even flowers are a luxury that cannot often be purchased. Nothing from the store tastes quite like a tomato picked straight off the vine.
- Organic produce is not always available where we live. I know that organic food is worth searching for, but it’s simply impossible to find some items where we live (or if we do, its imported from a different country).
- Growing food connects us to nature in a way that pre-packaged foods simply can’t. Real food can be messy, challenging, and doesn’t always look as pretty as the plastic-wrapped options in the produce section.
- Flowers are one of life’s simple pleasures. Finding organic flowers isn’t exactly easy though. It’s so much more calming to walk out into the backyard and collect some fresh blossoms for the kitchen than it is to buy a cellophane-wrapped bouquet of something that “ships and stores well”.
- There is something extremely satisfying about going out to the backyard to collect greens for dinner and some flowers for the kitchen table.
- Harvesting food and flowers that I’ve grown myself is one of the only times I feel like a grown up. Producing my own raw materials makes me feel like I’ve got my life together.
Gardening is for those who love true, authentic goods. Our ancestors were horticulturalists. Your family may have been farmers only a few generations ago. You can do this.
Gardening is for those who care enough about where food comes from to learn about the food production process from start to finish. It’s for those of us trying to eat real food, despite the cheap temptations that surround us. It’s for those of us who want to take some responsibility for the Earth and the effect our lives have on our natural surroundings.
Most of all, gardening is for those who desire a connectedness with nature, and with the most basic elements of life. Producing your own food is incredibly empowering. Why not try to grow one thing you usually buy at the grocery store? I’ll help you in whatever way I can.
I’ll show you the tips and tricks that have helped me go from gardening newbie to a confident organic gardener. I write about what works for me, but also about what doesn’t. Most of all, I want you to succeed in creating a healthy home that works for you and your life.
The Fine Print
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.