Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Magic spaces on the farm: The Labyrinth

Jo Wilson in the farm Labyrinth

Glen Valley Organic Farm has many corners and pockets that are best summed up as "magical". I like to imagine that there could be magical beasts that frequent these spaces -- whether trolls, fairies or leprechauns. But mostly they're magical for reasons we can see as well. Some of these spaces are magical because of their natural beauty while others are magical because of what people have done to the spaces.

One of the magical spaces we walk by many times each day is the farm's labyrinth. A small section of land between the farmhouse and barns along Bradner Road, the labyrinth is a magnificent garden bursting with flowers and herbs throughout the summer months.

Started by Brenda Grealis, the Labyrinth has been a labor of love for a long-time member of the farm co-operative, Jo Wilson. Every weekend throughout the summer Jo makes her way to the farm from her home in Burnaby via public transit and her bicycle, arriving on Saturday and leaving early Monday or Tuesday morning.

Jo spends much of her weekends weeding, digging and pruning in the Labyrinth's flower beds as well as a few other flower beds around the main farmyard. This year is the first year that the entire Labyrinth is completed -- all of the beds are finished and maintained.

Walking through the Labyrinth is special in its own right, but Jo's presence makes the space magical. Having become a member of the farm co-operative in order to preserve the farmland and support farmers, Jo has supported Glen Valley Organic Farm since its early days. She regularly works at the farm's stall (as part of Langley Organic Growers) at the Main Street Market in Vancouver. She offers ideas and advice on problems we face at various points. And she helps with gardening at a time when we simply don't have time ourselves to keep the farmyard maintained beyond an occasional grass cutting.

Having a city supporter who takes her involvement with the farm to this level is a significant support to the farm. In particular, her weekend visits help to provide us perspective on the world during the busiest time of the farming year. And by maintaining beautiful gardens, we have both a refuge and an aesthetically appealing space right near our homes.

The Labyrinth has other magical properties. Last night Jo watched a baby hummingbird fly through the flox flowers. Each summer a small patch of blueberry bushes keeps farm residents and visitors well-fed. Small ornaments throughout the garden provide surprises to Labyrinth walkers.

It's a treat to have spaces on the farm that are magical. It's an added bonus that the magic is as much a result of farm personalities as the natural beauty. And maybe there's the odd leprechaun running through the garden too.

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