Lockdown. Here we are sequestered in our private space trying to wait this thing out.
It is hard to think of the struggles of others when we are not exposed to those struggles directly. Just as it is hard to imagine what the COVID ward looks like right now in our local hospitals without being there. And we hope that you don’t get to experience it.  
L’Arche Daybreak is a community just north of Toronto where persons with intellectual disabilities (Core Members) live with and share life with dedicated staff and volunteers (Assistants). We recently learned of a core member named Debbie, who lost her job at Tim Hortons due to the pandemic. So, she started tending the garden at her Richmond Hill, Ontario residence. 

Debbie was hard at work right through the summer and fall this past year, tending the garden. After being asked just once to come out to the garden to help maintain and nurture it, she soon found that the experience rekindled a sense of purpose in her life.  
Debbie lost her father in January, and her passion for gardening, which stemmed from him, helped her learn how to deal with her loss. As reported in the L’Arche Daybreak newsletter, “Gardening requires hard work, faithfulness to tending to, and patience for uncertainty and the unknown. It is a process of making room, of planting something new, of waiting, watching, and hoping. In the wonder of the new life that emerges, there is the anticipation of what else might be possible.” 
In her landmark new book “The Well-Gardened Mind, the restorative power of nature” by Sue Stuart-Smith, she states, ““Tending a garden can become an attitude toward life. In a world that is increasingly dominated by technology and consumption, gardening puts us in a direct relationship with the reality of how life is generated and sustained and how fragile and fleeting it can be. Now, more than ever, we need to remind ourselves that first and foremost, we are creatures of the earth.” 
The pandemic has indeed taught us to deal with loneliness, isolation, and a new way of living. While we (Ben and Mark) are dealing with it, for the most part, without too many hiccups, we are also mindful of many Canadians who are having trouble dealing with it, not to mention the many people who acquire COVID 19.

To all of you, we have a message we hope will help you see to the other side:
The other side of a long cold winter and the other side of the pandemic. 
We ask ourselves, “What can we do to help our readers, listeners, followers and viewers get to the other side?” 

The answer is that we will keep doing what we do best, which is to communicate the valuable messages that the gardening experience offers. One of hope and personal prosperity, a form of wealth that has nothing to do with money. 

At L’Arche Daybreak, Debbie has experienced renewed passion, discovered in a time of limitation and loss. Her story inspires all of us, “to continue forth, to be attentive to the unexpected gift of wonder at the world around us and to remain hopeful.”
The garden and the natural world that surrounds us does not have the answer to every question, the solution to every problem. But it can help ease the journey down this path. 
Looking forward to engaging with you in the new year, we are faithfully yours,
Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty and Beans
For January, we are happy to report, you can take the month off. For the most part. 
Consider the following:

- Reduce watering of most indoor plants. 9 out of 10 problems with indoor plants are the result of over watering. Take a vacation from watering, use the extra time to listen to our biweekly podcast.

- Order seeds for your veggie and flower garden. Fresh seeds are on the retail seed racks now and last year many seeds sold out early.  We expect a similar experience this season! Order a copy of the Veseys catalog to start your shopping from home. www.veseys.com

- Join online horticultural club meetings. Gardeners are social creatures and so are you (probably)... especially in winter! Bring your questions and an inquisitive mind: many answers are to be found here!

- Read, listen, organize your garden photos from last summer and put up your gardening antennae: winter is when we learn and deepen our horticultural knowledge, not to mention create a plan for our 2021 garden!

Relax, light the fire, enjoy a wonderful, quiet time to reflect.
2020 was a big year for Cullen’s Foods – launching a new line of products during a pandemic was not without its challenges, but thankfully the appetite for Canadian-grown, organic beans is at an all time high.

2021 will be a big year again for getting the Cullen’s Story out there – check out this video which animates one of the ways that Cullen’s Foods is different.

Visit CullensFoods.com for more info.
GREEN FILE Episode 15
This week on our podcast Green File, we are talking to Sarah Harmer. Sarah is a sing-songwriter and environmental activist from her homestead outside of Kingston, Ontario. Sarah’s most recent album, Are You Gone was released in February and has been promoted alongside her activism in a series of online events.

Tune in - now available on Apple Podcasts AND Spotify!
A one-minute walk through Mark’s summer garden. 

A little reminder of what the garden season feels like.

Nozzle and Root Watering Kit
Your plants and shrubs will thank you after using this watering kit, affixed with an insulated nozzle and root waterer.

Ideal for supplying water directly down to deep-lying roots. This 10" root waterer is time efficient and will deliver great results, keeping your plants looking great all day long.

  • 10” Root waterer attaches to nozzle end for ease of use
  • Garden nozzle is insulated
  • Fibreglass reinforced lever with soft coating
  • Connects to any standard garden hose (sold separately)

HH item# 5042-005 
We write a weekly column for the New In Homes & Condos section of the Saturday Toronto Star.
In case you missed it, these are the exciting gardening/environment columns we wrote in December.
The Value of Birds
By: Jody Allair
2020 has been quite the year. The stress and uncertainty brought on by Covid-19 has been extremely taxing for all of us. But through it all there was always family, friends and birds. Like many of you, I spent much of the year at home, in my yard or walking around my local park. I birded every single day and relished seeing the changing seasons through the continuous movement of birds north in the spring and south in the fall. For many people, birding became much more than a distraction or casual pastime. Birds gave us hope and an opportunity to connect, or reconnect, with the natural world.

The result was that birding and bird feeding exploded in popularity in 2020. And I am going to hold on to that as one of the good news stories from this otherwise very difficult year.

So for my final article of 2020 I thought I would share some of my favourite bird photos, all taken this year from my yard. I hope they’ll inspire you to take a closer look at our avian neighbours. They’ve been there for us this year. And we’ll need to be there for them.
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Photo by Jody Allair
Hairy Woodpecker
Photo by Jody Allair
Western Tanager
Photo by Jody Allair
Great Horned Owl
Photo by Jody Allair
Turkey Vulture
Photo by Jody Allair
I would like to take a few moments here to thank all of you for reading my monthly Birds in Focus column and a special thanks to those of you who reached out to me over the past year. I also want to say an extra special thank you to Mark Cullen and Brenda Hensley for having me be part of this fantastic enewsletter.

Happy Holidays,

Jody Allair
Director, Citizen Science and Community Engagement
Connect with me on Twitter at: @JodyAllair
Farmerettes in Ontario
In 2021 it will be 80 years since the Farmerettes were organized.
Do you recall 'farmerettes'? Remember the "farmerettes"? If you're younger than 50, you probably don't. But if you were one of the teenage girls (or know a relative) who participated in the farm program that ran from 1942-53 and were stationed in southern Ontario during your summer stay.

Send us any photos, letters and stories you might have from a female relative who contributed to Ontario’s agriculture history - send to ads@harrowsmithmag.com. For more information on the farmerettes click here to read more.