Category Archives: Where in the World Is the Humane Gardener?

Organic Farming Helps Animals in Nova Scotia

Where in the world is The Humane Gardener? River Hébert, Nova Scotia

Who’s reading: Shannon Jones

Image of Shannon JonesHow she helps nature: At their 15-acre Broadfork Farm, Shannon and her partner, Bryan Dyck, grow vegetables and cut flowers to sell at markets, stores and restaurants. But their endeavors feed many more species than just their own. From the spiders weaving webs among the blooms to the mama bear and her cubs nibbling on apples, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, animals find a buffet in this pesticide-free oasis.

This year swamp milkweed has attracted monarchs to the farm for the first time, along with wasps, hoverflies, honeybees, moths and bumblebees. “I haven’t been able to bear cutting any since it’s always so full of life,” says Shannon, who abandoned her earlier plans to add the flowers to her farmers’ market bouquets. At this first Atlantic Canadian farm to be certified as bee-friendly, pollinators also visit the many herbs Shannon and Bryan planted as well as the thistle and goldenrod that sprouted on their own.

Image of bumblebee at Broadfork Farm

Some people say organic farms have lower yields. Not only is the notion too broad-sweeping, Shannon says, but it’s too human-centric: “If anyone included the yield to other species besides just the human species, organic farms would easily surpass chemical farms.”

Image of Humane Gardener book cover at Broadfork FarmHow The Humane Gardener has inspired her: “I’m always on the lookout for experiences, articles, books, people, etc., that will inspire a shift in paradigm within me. This book has done that,” wrote Shannon in a recent blog post. Though she and Bryan have intentionally left many areas of their farm alone as safe havens for wildlife, she is now more cognizant of the value of native plants to animals. “I’m sure that some people might drive by our property and think we should be mowing more areas,” she says. “And I think reading The Humane Gardener has made us feel more confident that leaving these spaces and not being controlling about what comes up is the right thing. It’s easy, even as organic farmers who never spray any organic-approved pesticides, to think of insects on our farm as good or bad. Reading The Humane Gardener has helped adjust that way of thinking even more.”

Where will The Humane Gardener sprout next? Tell us your story!

*Images courtesy of Broadfork Farm/www.broadforkfarm.com

Spying on Nature in Illinois

Image of squirrel in Illinois

20733027_10210172381328479_1583332065_nWhere in the world is The Humane Gardener? Goose Lake Prairie, Ill.

Who’s reading: Lisa Sherman

How she helps nature: Lisa launched Spying on Nature Together (@spyingonnature2together) on Instagram to share the joy of discovery. She encourages families to post their images of animals, plants, and other treasures they find together outdoors. “It all started with taking my kids on hikes and being desperate for them to be quiet so I could hear the birds,” she says. “But now it’s just how we do nature. Quietly, spying and learning.”

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They go to Goose Lake Prairie, a state natural area, several times a week to watch birds and learn about prairie grasses and native wildflowers. Exciting encounters with animals have included meeting a red admiral butterfly, a mama squirrel and a young turtle.

Image of Lisa Sherman in nature class
Lisa Sherman engages kids in nature through books, bird call recordings, and natural treasures found during her outdoor adventures with her family.

The Shermans’ adventures inform Lisa’s nature classes, where she brings found treasures such as feathers, rocks, skulls, seeds, abandoned nests, cicada shells, and honeycombs. Many adults she knows fear the species in their own backyards, so Lisa is determined to break the cycle by reaching young people: “We have to teach kids if this mindset is every going to change.”

Image of HG book with field guidesHow The Humane Gardener has inspired her: “I’ve been so inspired by this book! I want to learn all about allowing our space to be a safe haven for wildlife,” says Lisa, who is letting the thistle grow for goldfinches outside her back door. “And already my thoughts and feelings on different insects and animals have softened.”

From fledgling cardinals to ground squirrels, Lisa welcomes them all to her yard. She has even advised an insect-wary friend of the benefits of aphids, describing the sweet honeydew substance they produce for ants and bees.

Image of tree by Lisa Sherman

The sight of mowed-down wildflower meadows “kills me now,” Lisa says. “I don’t understand how people don’t care to see the world around them as something to protect—but instead they are bothered by the creation all around them. Your book has sort of flipped a switch for me. And it will be given as a gift many times!”

Where will The Humane Gardener sprout next? Tell us your story!

*All photos courtesy of Lisa Sherman

Ensuring Food Security in Texas

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Where in the world is The Humane Gardener? San Antonio, Texas

Who’s reading: Angela McDermott

How she helps nature: As an employee at the San Antonio Food Bank, Angela cares about the well-being of all species, noting that “insects and animals are food-insecure like members of the human community.” Planting edible native species at home helps her support wild visitors while also feeding herself and her husband. “My hobby is cooking so I’m starting to learn more about the history and flavors of Mexican cuisines and trying to grow some of the native herbs and plants from my area,” she says. “There really is an abundance when we learn to share. And when we learn we’re not the only ones who need to eat.”

How The Humane Gardener has inspired her: “Your book has helped me open up to a wider view of how to garden and see nature,” Angela says. Already wildlife-friendly and a prolific gardener, she wants to educate others about the importance of habitat elements such as tree snags and says that The Humane Gardener has helped her “better craft awareness conversations around that subject.” Find Angela on Instagram at @theflyingtangerine.

Where will The Humane Gardener sprout next? Tell us your story!