I have known the Laffans for years and every time I go to see their house in the back and beyonds of Dungarvan, I am always mesmerised by the beauty of their wild garden which is full of vegetables, fruit, herbs, and an orchard. It really reminds me of the garden from the movie and novel “The Secret Garden”. I am from Cork City so the chances of meeting someone with a beautiful big garden full of their own food is slim to null so this is why I would really like people from the City to see the importance of growing your own food and to start their own little wild garden or even a little box with your own favourite seasonal fruit or veg. I myself am pretty new to this idea of growing your own food and so I am very excited to learn more and to get my own little mini garden up and running. In this blog I am going to write a little passage about our first guest Laura Laffan and her earliest to her most recent accounts of gardening.
Laura grew up in the south suburbs of England with her family. Her Grandpa was the first person who got her interested in gardening. Her Grandpa had a large old fashioned green house, he would have her sitting down on the benches as a little girl while he worked with his hands, talking to Laura and the plants. Laura distinctly remembers the tomatoes in her Grandpa’s green house because of the smell of them mixed with the earth. He sold his tomatoes to his neighbours. She called her Grandpa’s garden a “Haven of Tranquillity”, something which is the polar opposite to the fast pace life of the City. Laura was fascinated by her Grandpa’s green house so she would ask her Grandpa lots of questions, why and what he was doing. He also had an allotment that was guarded by a goose to stop things being stolen, I don’t know how useful a goose would be in this day and age. During this era, there were still some effects of World War II so they were encouraged to grow vegetables out of necessity and for health reasons. Laura caught the gardening and growing your own food bug. Her parents also grew their own fruits and vegetables. She loved eating their home grown fruits and she anticipated the taste of a fresh strawberry or raspberry.
In her teenage years she moved to the communes in Wales where her family continued to grow their own vegetables and fruit. Now, Laura and her family live off the grid in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. They grow and eat most of their own fruit, vegetables and herbs and whatever they cannot produce themselves, they get it from locals or farmer’s markets.
My favourite quote that Laura said to me ; “ It’s always amazes me that from a tiny seed a sustainable plant can grow, I would like to see you experience the same fascination that I have every time I have planted seeds and a plant pops up!” If we, the city people or people who are “too busy” could see the importance of the seed. The little seed can feed us and it doesn’t contain any pesticides, insecticides, just what we put on it. Laura puts growing vegetables in a very simplistic way, she says; “Plants like good compost, watering and a little organic fertiliser”. Gardening seems so simplistic and basic, taking 2 minutes out of our busy schedule to look after a couple of plants equates to taking care of ourselves like meditation.
When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.- Abraham Lincoln
This article was written by Shakira Coonghe Bsc and features Laura Laffan.