What are Gardens of Love?

As a biodynamic fruit grower and trained farmer, I have experienced first hand how challenging it is to grow healthy crops with natural methods. There is a lot I can say about what challenges we face and you can read more on this under 'Why do we need Gardens of Love?' and in the book Growing Gardens of Love (available from the website and from Amazon). What it comes down to is that our ways of growing plants are very intense work, with little time for rest, and the work becomes more monotonous, the more efficient and large scale we try to become. And while we strive for efficiency, we can see the plants and animals, as well as the farmers suffer: stress and disease creep in, so that we have to constantly battle the consequences of our farming systems.

I have a dream, a vision of agriculture renewed.
For years I have searched and theorised for a new way of growing food, where there is time and space to do things right: Time to care for the soil, the plants, the animals and the people around us with loving attention, time to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and the joys of our work. And space for beauty, for wildlife, for meeting with others. A search for ways to create an agriculture that is not constant hard work, but a lovely, fulfilling labour of love, that leaves us feeling energised and connected to the world around us.

The model I have come up with unites permaculture, biodynamic farming and the ideal of ‘kin-domains’, into what I hope will become a new way of living together and caring for the land, nature and each other while producing our food:

At the centre of the Gardens of Love project are our Gardens of Love and the people who care for them: the Gardians.

The Gardens of Love are spaces where we form a relationship with our gardens, a bond of love, a symbiosis. We take loving care of our Garden; the Garden gives back to us with loving care.

Our Gardens of Love are formed by the community of Gardians and their Gardens.

Gardians can be individuals or families, working to create their own beautiful Garden.

Each Garden is about one hectare in size, and is the responsibility of one Gardian and their family. All the Gardens are part of a large farm, where forests and low lying fields provide wood, shelter for wild animals, some field crops and grazing for deer or cows, as well as inspiration for wandering Gardians and our guests.

Each Gardian has designed their Garden to provide them with fruits, nuts and roots, medicinal plants, small domestic animals and a pond with edible plants and fish.

One of the aims is to grow a wide variety of foods, while also creating spaces for wildlife and beauty.

At the same time, it is important to design the Garden so that it can be easily maintained, without a need for a lot of labour in caring for the Garden. We make use of Permaculture principles to create a Garden where the yield becomes more and more, not just in amount of one product, but so that there is a supply of fresh food most of the year, of a wide variety, and there is space for wildlife and beauty as well.

Many of the foods we grow come from trees and bushes, as well as perennial plants.

The Gardians live in their Gardens, as they are part of it. Our houses are designed to be comfortable, beautiful and energy and water efficient, made with reusable materials where possible. The houses have a greenhouse or sunroom as part of the design, bringing in warmth, as well as an additional space to grow food and beauty.

These gardens are Gardens of Love because the Gardians spread their love over the Garden, giving loving attention to each tree, each bush, each plant, each animal that lives there, making it part of the family, part of who they are, creating a true Home.

All that grows in the Garden has a bond with the Gardian, responding to the Gardians presence, to their feelings. And the plants and animals grow their gifts to feed the Gardians, and the food value, the energy in it is much more health giving than any food can be that is grown on a big field, on a big farm, where there is no time for such love and attention.

In addition to caring for our Gardens, our community works to inspire and heal ourselves and the people we touch.