Workin’ 9 to 5
Before 2010, Tanya Anderson lived a pretty conventional life working 9-5 in London. Although she had an impressive career in design, she began to experience burnout from the pressures of living in the city and travelling with work. Thankfully, she was introduced to gardening and fell in love with it immediately. She explained, “It was really a therapy for me.” Within two years she moved to the island and took over an allotment plot in Laxey. Up North, she really began to flourish in the gardening world and experimented with growing different vegetables, flowers, herbs and also began to bee-keep. Her passion soon blossomed into a business when she created her website, Lovely Greens.
Through gardening and beekeeping, a cycle of benefit emerged for Tanya. She could see the benefits that she, the plants and the bees were all receiving from gardening and beekeeping. Tanya then wanted to expand upon this by creating natural products using her beeswax, honey and her home-grown produce. Tanya explains, “that is what Lovely Greens is about – introducing people to plants in useful ways. To use plants for our own lives, to better the environment and support local ecosystems and biodiversity.” Tanya not only sees gardening as a great hobby but also a means of helping the environment. “Lowering your impact and becoming sensitive to those issues is something that comes naturally when you work with the soil.”
Green Finger Tips
Tanya suggests that, if you’d like to start gardening or growing even herbs in the house, first think about what you like to eat. For example, if you like basil, you can buy a basil plant from Tesco. Divide it up into a couple of pots as they don’t do very well in one clump. Then you can use it to make pesto, put it in different recipes and even make face cream or soaps.
You can use produce you have grown yourself or foraged. Just last week Tanya foraged some giant porcini mushrooms. However, Tanya explains when you are foraging it is important to be conscious of what you are taking. This is our biosphere and there is a lot of wildlife that live off wild food. She suggests only taking 10% of what you see. For instance, if you were foraging elderberries only take a few and leave the rest for the birds. The amazing thing about foraging is “you get out into the fresh air and see the bounty that our island has to offer” and it is a wonderful way to connect with the Earth.
Tanya is a big advocate of Manx local produce. She regularly visits the Ramsey Famer’s Market and appreciates all they have to offer. She raves about Kermelly’s, a local fish shop, which catches fresh fish just off the island.
Tanya explains how supporting locally not only helps Manx business but is much more environmentally friendly. She highlights that often food that is flown or shipped over here causes a much larger carbon footprint compared to buying Manx produce that has been grown and processed here on the island. By trying to keep our diet within a small radius of where we live benefits the planet. “I am a huge supporter of food that is grown locally and that is one of the biggest impacts we can make.”
A Woman’s Garden Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things
Tanya released her book, ‘A Woman’s Garden, Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things’, earlier this year. It features female gardeners from all around the world demonstrating how they use plants to better their own lives. It provides guides for over 35 different projects from dying wool to making skincare to supporting wildlife. It is about self-care and, of course, care for the environment. Tanya hopes that “it inspires others to take up gardening and also the possibilities of using plants”.
Tanya’s book can be found at every major bookseller or online on her website. If you wish to learn in person from Tanya herself, she holds workshops, including soap, Christmas wreaths and willow weaving workshops.
Lastly, Tanya encourages everyone to give gardening a go. “You don’t know if you’re going to like it or not until you try.”