Where in the world is The Humane Gardener? River Hébert, Nova Scotia
Who’s reading: Shannon Jones
How 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.
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.”
How 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.”
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*Images courtesy of Broadfork Farm