by Learning Lead – Caden & Lily

Harvest time was here at last! Come September, almost all of our vegetables were ready to be picked. Caden’s favourite type of vegetables to grow are ones like kale and bok choy which you can harvest throughout the growing season as long as you only take a few leaves from each plant at a time. It feels like more “bang for your buck” this way, compared to, say, cauliflower, which only yields the one head.

We were able to pop out to our backyard to harvest the exact amount we needed at a time, which meant that we reduced food waste and that our veggies stayed fresh for longer as, instead of wilting and rotting in our fridge, they kept growing still attached to their parent plant. It felt like “nature’s refrigerator”, as our veggies were easily accessible yet didn’t degrade like ones from the supermarket.

Photo of our two biggest eggplants of the season. Photo credit to Caden Hebb

It was so exciting to look out our bedroom window every morning and try to see if our eggplants had gotten any bigger or if there were any more beans ready for harvesting. We also really enjoyed cooking an assortment of meals with our garden veggies. At home, we try to use local ingredients as much as possible, and often pair our homegrown veg with locally-made tofu.

A large bowl in the foreground is filled with brown rice and a stir fry containing snap peas, broccoli, carrots, bok choy and tofu. A frying pan containing more stir fry is in the background. Photo credit to Caden Hebb

Our successful harvest included peas, beans, eggplants, zucchinis, cucumbers, peppers, bok choy, and cauliflower. As our committed readers will know, we had no shortage of cucumbers and zucchinis in particular.

A yellow eggplant from our garden along with two bush bean pods. Photo credit to Caden Hebb

We were so pleased to be able to have this experience together, as working on a garden, especially with someone you love, can be such a satisfying experience. We learned patience, love for the planet that houses us, the science of soil types and pH, different types of common garden insects, how to protect your garden from insects and wild animals, plant identification, and countless other life lessons that we’ll surely carry with us for the rest of our lives. We felt much more confident in our ability to feed ourselves and were able to connect with many people in our community through sharing garden tips and tricks.

Caden holding freshly harvested bok choy. Photo credit to Lilian Barraclough

As we write this in June 2022, nearly a year later, our vegetable garden has doubled in square-footage and is starting to fill out with the voluminous green that we remember from last year. We are trying some new species this year, with the addition of garlic, broccoli, and okra. We’re learning from last year too – we made sure our zucchini and cucumber plants had the proper climbing supports this year so they don’t climb our neighbour’s fence instead. We’ve also found a type of climbing pea that seems to be much happier in our soil.

Cooking with a large zucchini from our garden. Photo credit to Caden Hebb

We appreciate you all coming along with us on this gardening adventure. We recommend everyone try out gardening if they haven’t already – your garden, however big or small, doesn’t have to be perfect. Each plant provides a learning experience and ignites a long-forgotten child-like fascination as we marvel at how a seedling can grow a few centimetres in a couple of days. Not only are these skills for life, they help ground (no pun intended) us to nature in a time when society makes things feel out of control.

Take care, everyone. Wela’lin.

Photo of Caden and Lily from the PowerShift: Young and Rising conference in 2019. Photo by Louis Sobol

Thanks for following along with our journey. Our names are Caden and Lily. We live in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq with our dog Anna and horse Alamar. We are both graduates of environmental programs from universities here in Halifax, and Lily is a Master’s student studying how politically-active youth experience climate grief. We are dedicated to acting upon and pushing for transformative change towards a more equitable, just, and sustainable society, and we try to do that out in the world as activists, and in our own lives through things like gardening, zero waste living, being vegetarian, and using more environmental forms of transportation.