Small Space Gardening with Dani and Leigh Smythe from CROP
April 20, 2016
Silver Springs Community Centre – 5720 Silver Ridge Dr. NW
Dani’s love for food emerged when she was quite young, enjoying noshing on crab, steak and huge cobs of corn when she was 5. In grade 4, her teacher asked each the students to choose a job that they found interesting and write a letter to find out more about that career. Dani applied to the San Francisco Culinary Institute. Turns out they don’t accept 9 year olds, but she remember being incredibly excited when they sent her an application package. She has never lost her love of all the delectable, wonderful and weird food out there. Her first job was at the lone sushi bar in Medicine Hat, Alberta when she was 16. She has been lucky enough to do some travelling and has enjoyed alpaca in Peru, snake in China and a little bit of everything in India.
While she ultimately opted to pursue her other interests and obtained an MA in Journalism in 2010, she has been lucky enough to come full circle, back to her lifelong passion for food and to take on this new challenge with Crop.
Sustainability in all forms often occupies her thoughts and she is looking forward to changing her own habits, and hopefully helping others do the same. Calgary is full of vibrant, motivated and progressive people of all ages and she feels our city really has the ability to lead in terms of policy and innovation. She is excited to connect with our community!
Leigh’s father was the gardener in her family and he not only grew a vegetable garden in the backyard but also had an extensive hydroponic garden for many years in their basement. It provided the family with fresh greens and other small veggies for many winters.
Leigh’s love of radishes as well as an interest in growing and botany started then! Her mother made the best dill pickles, crabapple jelly and relish in the city!
Leigh owned and operated Golden Acre Garden Centre in Medicine Hat for 28 years. She was on a Q & A style phone in radio show for 27 years and has also written for several newspapers and garden magazines over the years.
Since her retirement from the garden centre she has had a private horticultural consulting company called Mother Nature’s Copilot.
35 years ago, most of her customers had vegetable gardens and fruit trees and canned and preserved. Then this trend waned and virtually died. Seeing this desire to grow food “crop” up again in the younger generation is very heartening.
Growing is not without challenges and frustrations, but she has the knowledge and experience to get new food growers on the path to success.