What does one do when they get a break from the corporate field and real estate through maternity leave? Grow a gardening & education empire to grow with the kids! Not to mention a charity to go with it…

Melissa Cameron, an established real estate executive with a background in International Relations, expanded her family, completed her studies as an Organic Master Gardener, and started The Good Seed in Toronto in 2017. She is still raising her beautiful family with husband, and now expanded her business to virtually teaching new and experienced horticulturists, gardeners, and home gardeners with Gardenologie.

The Good Seed started as a permaculture garden design firm, specifically with clients who wanted to actively apply permaculture and ecological regeneration principles in their garden design. One thing that completely differentiated her services from others is that clients are actively involved participants in their space – learning from Melissa, the process and meaning of their immediate backyard biodiversity. The Good Seed has successfully walked many home gardeners through the stumbling blocks and learning curves of managing their gardens.

In her service, Melissa assess the space, makes recommendations, creates customized designs and engages her clients to physically work with her in their garden. This is an empowering aspect of her business framework – when the clients participate, the ownership of their goals are placed squarely into their hands. They learn to intentionally work the garden and observe the changes that take place throughout the season(s). Pride, accomplishment and ecological awareness become the incentive to maintain the space they have worked hard for.

Once lockdowns happened, it became a challenge to physically reach all of her existing and potential customers. The solution to was to move to a digital platform. This allowed her knowledge and coaching time to be more accessible to all those who are looking to learn how to grow a productive and abundant harvest. Melissa partnered with another gardener and instagram pal, Luay Gafari of Urban Farm & Kitchen in 2020, and created their first A Year in the Urban Garden class.

The class is very immersive as the students begin their journey with their garden designs in hand before their first class begins. Each learn how to grow a garden from propagating their seeds, transplanting, soil assessment and management, and follow Melissa and Luay’s cultivation instructions. They also offer class zoom sessions to speak and discuss, as a class, their observations, ask questions, share ideas and work together through their garden challenges. Each student is also entitled to personal one-on-one sessions with their teachers, so their efforts get valuable personal coaching (and encouragement!) along the way. Paid consultations are also available.

Since its inception, the class has evolved (quite quickly) into the Gardenologie Master Class program, with a partnership with West Coast Seeds to provide tuition scholarships. This year, West Coast gave out two scholarships and Gardenologie matched theirs, making a total four recipients.

Every gardener, new and established has a learning curve and ongoing learning process. If you want to skip the uphill battle and do it right the first time, check out the carefully crafted class that has been created for you by Melissa & Luay.

Now if Melissa Cameron’s story still has not convinced you to grow something – still, perhaps a charity that supports access to healthy fresh food will. Melissa – now renaissance woman to you – and a client of the Good Seed, created the charity, The Abermoray Garden Collective. Based just outside of Klienberg, this farm grows fresh vegetables and brings them to young families living in high-risk neighbourhoods or on a marginal income. You might not have a desire to grow something yourself, and that is also OKAY. But if you feel fresh, organically grown food is something that should be accessed by all, check out the collective. You can donate financially or in-kind, even sponsor a raised garden bed.

Next time, I address what most of us might be thinking about at the cusp of spring: To Hire, or Not to Hire a Landcaper/Gardener/Contractor. How to choose one and was it worth it? By the way – I don’t guffaw at hiring help – I’m among one of those helpers!

-Lindsay

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