Amy Simcox, with twin daughters Grace (left) and Lily, pull some weeds from their backyard strawberry patch. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Amy Simcox, with twin daughters Grace (left) and Lily, pull some weeds from their backyard strawberry patch. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Dirty hands, happy heart

Gardening an essential way to relieve stress for 108 Mile Ranch family

To South Cariboo resident Amy Simcox, nothing feels as good as having her hands in the dirt.

She can be found most evenings in the backyard of her 108 Mile Ranch home, working to expand her fruit and vegetable garden with the help of her trusted assistants – four-year-old twins, Lily and Grace.

Along with her husband, Dave, Simcox has been slowly expanding her backyard oasis since moving onto the property five years ago. Each spring season, the 100 Mile Elementary teacher adds another new garden bed or a bushel of plants.

Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, her garden became more than just a hobby; it became a way to help cope with the newfound challenges of teaching online.

“Last year, when COVID hit, I was pretty stressed out. I was going to work every day and I really needed some kind of physical outlet. So I would come home and rip up the sod by hand,” she recalls, pointing to a large rectangular patch of soil.

Simcox has long had a fondness for plants and the science behind how they grow. She studied ecology and environmental science at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, where she had her first opportunity to grow a garden of her own.

At the time, she had a few small tomato plants in a pot on her apartment balcony. When she told her landlord how much she wished she had a larger garden space, the landlord created a 10-by-10-foot plot for her on the apartment-complex property, where she grew tomatoes, carrots and raspberries among other things.

“It kind of brought everyone together,” Simcox recalled. “I’d be out there working in the garden and chatting with the neighbours, and then we started trading things like raspberries for a loaf of bread.”

Now with a much larger growing space to call her own, Simcox is excited to be expanding her garden and her knowledge.

Plus, it also provides a great opportunity to teach her daughters about the wonders of knowing where their food comes from, and the growing cycle.

“I really like weeding the best,” said Lily, wearing a well-used blue princess dress while elbow-deep in soil.

Grace, just as happy being filthy, chimes in that her favourite gardening activity is finding worms.

This year, Simcox is planning to test out what’s known as a “Three Sisters” garden, a type of companion planting that includes corn, beans and squash, chosen for their tendency to thrive together in one bed.

She said she is unsuret how the corn will fare in this climate, but is excited to see how it goes.

Other popular crops in their backyard include potatoes, peas, carrots, and leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce and kale.

Her girls love to help in all aspects of planting, tending, and harvesting fruits and vegetables, she said.

They are especially avid helpers when it comes to picking the fruits of their labour, especially the fresh raspberries and strawberries that sometimes don’t make it into the freezer before getting devoured.

“There is so much learning that happens out here,” she said. “And it’s a lot of fun because I just get to talk to them while we’re out here, weeding. They tell me stories about their day.

“For me, it’s a mental health thing, getting your hands dirty. Being in nature is calming – plus we get to get dirty.”



melissa,smalley@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

100 Mile House

 

Grace Simcox waters some plants in the family’s backyard greenhouse. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Grace Simcox waters some plants in the family’s backyard greenhouse. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Amy Simcox shows her daughters, Lily and Grace, where to plant potatoes in their backyard garden. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Amy Simcox shows her daughters, Lily and Grace, where to plant potatoes in their backyard garden. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily (left) and Grace Simcox work on prepping plants in their backyard greenhouse. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lily (left) and Grace Simcox work on prepping plants in their backyard greenhouse. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)

Just Posted

Miguel and Krista Vieira are looking forward to being able to spend more time with their girls Makayla, left, and Hanna. (Mandy McLelland Photography - submitted).
70 Mile General Store owners moving on

Change comes after 34 years in the family

Sophie Rywaczuk mixes cake batter while making a birthday cake for a client. (Photo submitted)
Young entrepreneurs set up shop, sell local wares

Farmers’ market launching pad for young bakers

Jasmine Kreschuk, PSO's music director, speaks to Grade 5 and 6 students at 100 Mile Elementary about changes to the band program. (Melissa Smalley photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Collective band program planned for South Cariboo schools this fall

Elementary students in 100 Mile area can opt to take part in after school band at PSO

John Archie plans to share his experiences of residential school and life on the rez at an event on June 19. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press)
Tsq’escen to share stories of ‘life on the rez’

John Archie to share his experiences in event Saturday

100 Mile House Fire Rescue responds to a grass fire on private property near Canim-Hendrix Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Small fire off Canim-Hendrix Road extinguished

The small grass fire was reported by neighbours and quickly brought under control

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Most Read