“So often the best lessons we are taught are those handed down the family line, whether intentionally delivered or simply absorbed through time – and chores – shared.” Kristina Jensen. Following is my contribution to Kristina’s “Mother Mentoring” article featured in the May 2017 issue of Kiwi Gardener magazine.

I grew up in the sun-drenched fertile plains of Marlborough, New Zealand, before they became world-renown for producing an excellent drop of sauvignon blanc. My childhood was a time when the Wairau Plains were a rich tapestry of diversity that included garlic farms, cherry and apricot orchards, blueberry, strawberry and corn fields. I lived in suburban Blenheim where my Mum, who grew up on a sheep and beef farm in the foothills of mid-Canterbury, made or created almost everything from scratch, as her mother had.



A vege garden in the backyard was the norm, followed by preserving the fruit from the pear, nectarine, and peach trees. The walnuts were collected, dried, and cracked, and all going well green walnuts (and later olives) would have been pickled (yum) prior to them dropping on the ground. Our friends down the street had hives where we sourced our honey, and when I was first weaned and had a reaction to cow’s milk, Mum collected raw goat’s milk from around the corner.

We’d spend hours outside in the garden playing…pet caterpillars were plucked from the cabbages; chickweed and dandelion were stuffed into glass jars with water and left in the sunshine to make “shampoo”. I remember the smell of the manure we shovelled from under my uncle’s woolshed to spread on my grandparent’s garden. When I wanted my own garden, Mum gave me a hoe and a spot of lawn that I could convert and plant as I wished.

Today I notice that conversations in our family are scattered with ways to use the abundance of overgrown zucchinis, what sort of tomato season we’ve had, or whether we’d like a cutting of something. Now as a naturopath and medical herbalist, it is this childhood knowledge – organic gardening, seasonal eating and preserving – that form the back to basics, sustainable approach to good health that I support my clients to adopt. To put it simply, plants and their connection to nourishment was infused into me during my childhood.

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