October 2017 – Janet Stephenson

Janet Stephenson: The Farm as a “Classroom”

Janet Stephenson became a Friends’ garden volunteer for two main reasons: she wanted something physical to do and to learn something new. Four years later, it’s immediately apparent from her delight in recounting her experiences at the Farm that joining the Iris and Day Lily Team has filled the bill. Janet readily admits that when she arrived for her first shift, she was not a “very experienced nor knowledgeable gardener.”

And although one of the younger members of the team, she had a “tough time keeping up with the ladies who having entered their seventh decade wheeled a garden fork and spade with strength and skill while I huffed and puffed. Although humbled by these apparent Amazons, I was also inspired and have kept at it.” Janet has kept at it despite what she describes, with some humour, as an “up close and personal encounter with an iris grub,” which has made it impossible to “look at gummy worms in the same way again.”

Eager to learn, Janet has improved her gardening skills, which she has transferred to her own garden. She attributes her newly gained skills to her “colleagues’ collective plant wisdom, which is one of the best things about volunteering at the Farm. I particularly enjoy our conversations during breaks to identify different garden pests, how to get rid of them, and what to do with a failing plant.” Despite the collective wisdom, however, she laments that “no one has a solution to get rid of squirrels that actually works.” And so the battle continues and Janet continues to learn new things at the Farm.

Mary Ann Smythe, October 2017. Photo by Polly McColl.