Sandra: So what is your name?
Stanley: My name is Stanley Roy MacEachern.
Sandra: And are you a new or experienced gardener?
Stanley: Experienced gardener. I’ve been gardening for 35 years.
Sandra: In what countries have you gardened?
Stanley: Here in Canada, and in Cobram, Australia. I was on three different farms there. Dairy from cows, tobacco, blueberries and sheep.
Sandra: Do you have a family connection to gardening or farming?
Stanley: Yes I do. My brothers and sisters and my dad. My dad is 83 and he still does a couple hours a day gardening.
Sandra: What motivates you to garden?
Stanley: It’s good exercise. It’s good being outdoors. I like being outdoors. It’s the sense of direction of when you see a seed growing into a plant, or like a plant growing underneath the soil, like a turnip. It starts as a seed but it’s as big as a football when it’s grown.
Sandra: If you were a plant, what plant would you be?
Stanley: Probably a raspberry, because I love raspberries.
Sandra: So are you a social gardener or are you a solitary gardener?
Stanley: I’m more solitary. I like to be on my own.
Sandra: What about gardening stresses you out or what about it relaxes you?
Stanley: What stresses me out is the fact that the plants aren’t growing. It’s hard because you want to see it get along better instead of just waiting for it to grow. It’s best just to look at it once a week, cause if you look at it too much, you keep wondering if it’s going to grow. So I like to grow things that are productive, and if you have good radishes you have a good gardener.
It relaxes me because you’re picking the weeds, and you see if the crop is ready. It’s good to show other people, good to show other people that don’t know anything about gardening. Just like today I offered a guy four radishes and he said, “Yeah sure! I’ll take them.” And he didn’t even know what a radish was so I showed him and gave it to him and that was it. That’s just my style. I did it last year and I did it the year before and I’m doing it this year.
Sandra: What is the most underrated activity in gardening?
Stanley: Spoilage. A lot of stuff you put in that doesn’t grow. It’s kind of hard on ya because you have to pay for more seed, pay for more plants, and you don’t know if they’re going to grow because the season is too late. Like my tomatoes. They’re too small and my lettuce is too small, but they still have quite a bit of time. I have faith that it will grow because I have faith in things that I’m planting that they’ll grow, and every year they do anyways so there’s no sense in worrying about anything.
Sandra: So what childhood fear do you have as an adult?
Stanley: People, and the fall, and into the winter. I have a little bit of paranoia and it goes with the territory, and I soon get out of it pretty quick. It’s like the dark ages that goes over us from November to January and then I just snap out of it right after that. I tend to have lots of good friends, and a lot of people I can call on the telephone. I have a doctor I can go to, and another doctor I can go to. Anything that ever happens to me, I just *ding ding* “Hi, I have an emergency” and there’s mobile crisis intervention, though I’ve never had to use it, except for somebody else that was bothering me, but other than that, it’s just smooth sailing. The last twenty years have been pretty good.
Sandra: What is an urban farm?
Stanley: An urban farm is a community of people who share their talents and their questions about farming. Urban farming means that everybody is involved. You get to know how things are made and grown differently by just looking around here at all the different things that people do: flowers, produce, people that are blind, the market garden, and also people that just like to wander in the garden and ask questions and give advice. You can also take advice too, like I like to do!
I’m not hesitant to say that the garden is excellent this year. It’s been a very good thing that has happened over the years for me and I just appreciate all the people that are involved from one end to the other end of the spectrum.
Sandra: So what have you learned through Common Roots?
Stanley: Like I said, new ideals, new ways of growing things and they understand that the things they can grow are feasible, either on a small scale or on a big scale, digging weeds and also digging compost, shaking it up.
I give thanks to the core group [of staff and volunteers] that makes this thing happen, and the things that are not so good you can always tell them about it and I find all the gardens this year are all usable, which is great.
Sandra: Has Common Roots affected your attitude towards food?
Stanley: Stanley: It has taught me to teach others the value of a good product and you can appreciate the goodness it brings and the taste
Sandra: How has Common Roots made a difference in your life?
Stanley: I get out more, I see people, have conversations with the people that work in here, and I gesture to say hello to people I meet. It has gotten me out more, more into the community, makes me feel well, good to see the beauty of nature and you can always ask questions for advice.
Stanley is a long-time volunteer at Common Roots and has a passion and strong background in farming. Having farmed around Australia and Canada, and he knows the ins and outs of farming and was eager to talk about it in our interview together. Stanley was interviewed by Sandra, a student at Mount Saint Vincent University and CRUF volunteer.