Answer: A farmhouse in Western Massachusetts, with fantastic views, lots of land and a beautiful family garden.
Question: What did the future hold for Gretchen, a veteran marketing professional, who wanted to return to her country roots in retirement?
When Gretchen turned 60, she started asking a lot of questions about her future. The answers came in the form of careful planning and patiently waiting for the pieces to fall into place.
Planning for a Family Garden
When Gretchen and her partner Anne lived in a condo in Boston’s historic South End, they cultivated a small family garden in a rented plot in a community garden near their home. Gretchen reconnected with her passion for gardening, and realized that when she retired, she wanted to return to her roots and have a big family garden. The time spent working the dirt made her long for her old world, planning and planting a family garden and canning, pickling and freezing the harvest.
When the market was right, they sold their condo in Boston. They rented an apartment just west of the city and began searching for a farmhouse in Western Massachusetts. After learning about the various towns around Amherst, they found and purchased a 173 year old farmhouse with enough land to make their family garden dreams a reality. The house required some TLC, but years spent renovating their Boston condo with new windows, HVAC systems and an updated kitchen, prepared them for the work needed.
Making a Family Garden a Reality
Work continues on the farm house, but they are now in their second full season of gardening, and are truly enjoying the process and the results. This season they increased their family garden space. They now have two beds that are 18’ x 30’. The newest plot is a raised bed they built themselves. In this part of the family garden, they are raising
In the original family garden plot they planted
- Pole beans
- Pea pods
- More tomatoes
- Bush beans
- Dry beans
The two garden beds are closer to the farmhouse. In a plot near the pasture, Gretchen and Anne have a pumpkin patch and blueberries. Here they have also created a space in their family garden where they “tithe to the animals.” They grow leftover beans and assorted treats for rabbits, deer and other wild creatures. The hope is that this offering will keep the creatures away from the beds near the house.
Reaping the Benefits of a Family Garden
Gretchen is just delighted with the harvest from their family garden. By early August, they were already busy harvesting beans. They raised green, yellow and purple string beans. They steamed the beans for a few minutes and then spread them out on a cookie sheet. They placed the cookie sheets in the freezer over night and then collected the frozen beans in bags to be enjoyed throughout the winter. Now that many of the other crops are maturing, they will start the process of canning and preserving the bounty of their family garden to nourish and sustain them through the year.
It took time and planning, but Gretchen and Anne have realized their dream of a retirement that allows them to enjoy their interests along with continuing to cultivate their knowledge and their garden.
Do you have a family garden?
We'd love to hear what you're growing in your garden, and any tips you can share with other home gardeners.
Gretchen is a New England-based marketing consultant with more than 25 years of experience in brand development, marketing communications and marketing publications. Her clients include: Moonrock (a tree-free paper company), AgroGreen (an alternative biofuels technology company) and Empiriko (a clinical intelligence technology company).