Uprooting the Family to a Farm

For six-year-old Max, orange carrots and red tomatoes are an anomaly. Since he and his family moved to a farm three years ago, he has only eaten what they grow—robust heirloom carrots that are purple, yellow, and a vibrant red, and plump tomatoes in shades of black, green, and aubergine.

This fact is one of several that make Melanie Holmes and her husband, Sandy Griffith, proud. The couple gave up high-paying corporate jobs and a bustling city existence in Toronto, Canada, to relocate their family (which also includes 8-year-old Molly) to a hobby farm they had been tending on weekends for several years. “We kept our house in the city, just in case we couldn’t make it,” Melanie says.

But make it they did, converting the 65-acres of land into a viable organic farming business. MeadowSweet Farm specializes in salad greens, which are sold to local retailers and restaurants, and offers a boxed organic produce delivery and pick-up service to the community.

Kidbox-Farm-Family-credit-MeadowSweet

Max tends to the farm stand cash box. (Photo credit: Melanie Holmes)

BACK TO NATURE

Country living quirks aside, such as the odd power outage, the farm has become a big, open playground for Max and Molly, who enjoy the freedom to run around. “Our kids have a circular piece of land called the Pizza Garden. We divide it up into slices and they grow their favorite toppings in each section,” explains Sandy. “Our meals often involve picking the ingredients first,” Melanie adds.

The couple does miss some perks of city life, such as chatting with parents while walking the kids to school (Max and Molly now take the bus). There are also more practical challenges, like understanding a new water system since the house runs off a well (something they “knew nothing about,” says Melanie). Still, moving away from some everyday conveniences has meant “watching the kids grow and thrive,” according to Melanie, who noticed Max and Molly get sick much less than before.

MeadowSweet has brought new friends, too. Through the summer-long Lunch and Learn program, people can visit the farm and ask about different aspects of the process, like beekeeping and honey making, over a lunch sourced mostly from the surrounding land. “It’s been a nice way to get to know people in our neighborhood,” says Melanie.

Kidbox-Farm-Family-credit-MeadowSweet-2

Molly holds a feathered friend at MeadowSweet Farm. (Photo credit: Melanie Holmes)

3 WAYS TO LIVE THE FARM LIFE

 

Uprooting your family is not always an option (or A dream) for everyone. But there are some ways parents can create the farm experience for their children no matter where they live. Melanie and Sandy share their tips:

 

  • Teach them about where food comes from. As a family, visit a farmer’s market in the city or join a co-op garden. We hosted our daughter’s kindergarten class at the farm before we moved here, and most children didn’t know that eggs are from chickens! Cooking with your kids also shows them what ingredients actually look like (dirt-covered veggies, etc.)
  • Let the kids play. Watching our kids’ imaginations grow is truly incredible. During the summer, we had to install a TV to lure our kids back inside because they wouldn’t ever want to come in. It’s important to let them explore their surroundings and breathe fresh air. They also develop a sense of independence and confidence.
  • Be patient and enjoy the little things. We are still adjusting to the pace, as everything here seems to work on its own schedule—including the internet! But we are benefitting by slowing down. We try and watch the sunset most nights with our kids, something that you can do as a family even in the city. Seek ways to be grateful for your surroundings.