Thursday, August 16, 2012

Charming East Gloucester Family & Gardens

   On Wednesday evening I had the great pleasure of visiting the Bushfield family, parents Joanna and Tim, and their four children; Justin, Tessa, Jeremiah and Trey.   Joanna and I have been corresponding through e-mail, and I thought I was going to meet someone I didn't know.  What a great surprise it was to find out that I had met Joanna and Tim last winter when Tessa and I were working on a play together.

Upon arrival, Joanna served me the most delicious lemonade I have ever had.  She had infused it with basil she grows in the garden, it was so refreshing!  We then headed over to her delightful garden.  The vegetable garden is on the side of the house, and is set up in such a way that there is a lovely path that ambles through it into the back yard.  All of the vegetables were producing beautifully, and we're planted in such a way that every nook on both sides of the path held wonderful surprises.  

  In the center of one side of the path is the arbor that Joanna and Tim were married under thirteen years ago.  It is now being used to trellis green beans that feed their family.  On the other side of the path, another delightful green bean trellis balances the first.  Joanna and Tim made a tee pee like structure out of bamboo stakes, and planted beans around 3/4 of it.  The vines and leaves are now covering the  stakes, yet leave a door like opening where the children can crawl in, and have a fabulous fort in the midst of the garden.  Five year old Jeremiah especially loves spending time in the garden, and spends lots of time in the green bean fort.  He told me that the best thing about it is " if you get hungry while you're playing, the fort feeds you.
In addition to the green beans in the vegetable garden, the Bushfields grow squash, zucchini, several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, jalepeno peppers, seranno peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions, broccoli, carrots, and pumpkins (and I'll bet I'm forgetting some!)  Some of the spring crops like spinach and lettuce have already gone by, but as I mentioned earlier, the rest of the garden is flourishing!  They also have an apple tree, cherry tree and peach tree at the end of the garden, next to the back yard.  The peaches are just now ripening, and ten year old Justin picked one for us to try.  It was so juicy and delicious!  Here is a photo of the children picking peaches while we visited.

 After we spent time admiring the vegetable garden and the fruit trees, nine year old Tessa brought me into the back yard to show me her herb garden.  She got the idea of an herb garden from a children's book series "Warriors," about clans of cats.  In the series there are medicine cats who use various plants and herbs to help heal their fellow cats, and Tessa loved the idea of using plants that she grew to aid in healing.  Tessa shared with me some of her "sugar" leaves, that were a sweet treat!

 After our tour of the gardens, Joanna treated us to some delicacies she whipped up from her harvest, a delicious tomato salad, and some Spanakopita that was to die for!  If that wasn't enough, to top off the evening she served homemade sorbet, infused with bourbon for the adults, and with grapefruit and tarragon for the children.  As we sat on the Busfield's gorgeous farmers porch, we chatted about (what else?) gardening, an I learned that Joanna and the kids are also part of the Garden Club at East Gloucester School.

I asked each of the children to share their thoughts on gardening, and each had some insightful thoughts on the matter:
When I asked Justin what his favorite food from the garden was, he exclaimed "Zucchini Muffins!"  He will eat other vegetables, but he would prefer them in the form of something yummy like muffins.  Justin is old enough to remember the house the family lived in before they bought this home three years ago, and recalled how they grew tomatoes, their first try at gardening.  Mom laughed and reminded him how she and Dad used to think that Justin loved the tomatoes, until they found that he was picking them to throw them.

Tessa's favorite vegetable from the garden is carrots. In addition to her herb garden, she likes to make fairy houses throughout the yard.  Anyone who knows me, know that fairies are a subject close to my heart, an so I am sure that Tessa and I are kindred spirits! 

Jeremiah (or Jer Jer, as he said I could call him) loves spending time in the garden, and likes all aspects of gardening.  Mom said that Jeremiah is the one who spends the most time with her in the garden.  In addition to the green beans he eats from his fort, he enjoys tomatoes, and zucchini muffins.

Two year old Trey might not be much help in the gardens, but he enjoys spending time outside with his parents and older siblings.  He likes tomatoes, and showed me how he could eat a green tomato to prove his point.

Joanna shared that she has only been gardening for a couple of years, and is enjoying learning new ideas, and ways to use her harvest.  Her dad was an avid flower gardener, and she said that growing up she could never understand why he got so much pleasure from gardening, but now knows exactly what attracted him.  The spiritual aspect of gardening, the intimate closeness to God and his creation is very appealing to Joanna.  Justin said that gardening helps him feel closer to God too, especially watching the perennial plants come back year after year helps him to relate to the ressurection of Jesus.

I had a wonderful evening getting to know the Bushfields.  I love this family!  I am looking forward to updates on the gardens, and recipes that Joanna has promised to post for us.  Thanks Joanna, Tim, Justin, Tessa, Jer Jer & Trey!


  1. Isn'tthat.funny I also love the Bushfields!

  2. Great post! The Bushfields participated in the Backyard Growers Training this past spring - it's great to see them on our blog!

  3. Way to go, Joanna. Your Grandad Knight (aka Mr. Horticulture!) would be so proud of you!

  4. Ohhhh......I love me some Bushfield family too!! Miss you Jo!!!

  5. Wow! Great garden! Thanks for sharing!