With a beautiful organic farm and flower business, Andrew and Tania are inspiring examples of a considered life that’s lived slow and in touch with nature. They were also the muses for our photoshoot with Jacklyn Barber for our newest GOODLAND item—our Wood Splitting Axe. The pair lives in London, Ontario, alongside their daughter, Yvonne, and dog Arthur.
As a farmer and florist, you both work so closely with nature. Can you tell us about how you both got started?
Andrew: I didn’t grow up on a farm, but about 10 years ago in university, I started reading about small scale market gardening. I was intrigued, and started working on farms both abroad in England and throughout Ontario, and started Sungold Market Garden, our farm, in 2017. We grow vegetables and herbs and sell them at farmers markets, to restaurants, and through an online store. We just wrapped up our sixth season and are excited about what the future holds for our business.
Tania: I’m a florist, and mainly do weddings and events. Three years ago, the pandemic happened, and because I was mainly involved in events, it greatly impacted my work. Andrew and I started talking about what to focus on, and I’ve always wanted to grow flowers but never had the time to slow down and actually figure out how to do that. The pandemic was the perfect opportunity to start, and that was the first year that we started growing flowers on the farm.
That’s where our businesses come together. It was perfect—the farm was this space where I could take all of this uncertainty and just have a positive experience. It’s now been three years for us growing flowers at the farm, and it’s benefitted both of our businesses, and we plan to expand and grow even more flowers going forward.
What does slow living mean to you?
Andrew: We’re relatively busy right now, with two businesses, a baby, a house, and a dog. So, we consciously try to carve out some moments where we can just enjoy our family and slow down a little bit.
One thing that we love is simply going for a walk. When we’re walking, we’re not thinking about work, we’re not thinking about the next thing. Instead, we get to enjoy seeing the dog chasing a squirrel, we’re looking for mushrooms in the forest, or we’re observing how the landscape changes over the course of a year.
Tania: Farming season is very busy from spring to the end of the fall, and there isn’t a lot of time to just stop and slow down. But with a newborn, she really gets to decide what we’re doing, instead of our to-do list. It’s been amazing this year to just allow that pause with her to happen without fighting it. With a small child, we’ll often stop and pick her up—maybe we’ll wander down to the forest and the river, or go to the cabin out back to have a snack. Our culture moves pretty fast, and it’s been a nice shift to actually pause.
Can you paint the picture of what the farm looks like… sights, smells, sounds?
Andrew: From the garden, the majority of what you see is rolling pasture and treeline. The property is lined with mature pine, oak, and maple trees. We see all sorts of wildlife, like deer, foxes, snakes, and a variety of birds including a resident pair of green herons. The property has a century bank barn which we use as our washing and cold storage facility and for curing garlic and onions.
There’s also an apiary on the farm with 25-30 hives within a few feet of the garden. Having bees so close to our crops ensures pollination and in return our many flowering crops provide much to forage.
Do you have a tip for helping people reconnect to nature, even if they live in a city?
Andrew: I think that connecting with one’s food and the people who produce it can afford an excellent opportunity to connect to land. Whether it’s a harvest dinner or a farm tour, farmers are often happy to invite their community to better understand the unique conditions that give taste and colour to their food.
Another tip is to seek out quiet places. We have few favourite spots, both urban and rural, that we return to often. If you’re not sure where to look, talk to people who hike, naturalists, birders—those people can point you in the right direction. You might be surprised by the pockets of nature in an environment where you wouldn’t really expect them. In our experience there is nothing more grounding, calming, and revitalising than spending time in those places.