It Takes a Smile to Build a Village

I have so much reverence and awe for Thierry Vrain and Chanchal Cabrera and the way they foster a village at Innisfree Botanical Garden and Farm.

This photo of me and Thierry doesn’t even compare to the teeth-filled grin, shoulder’s raised, smile from his soul that I get, off camera, EVERY day, yet I bet you’ve seen how he lights up the sky and makes the plants want to see.

Four days a week, I volunteer each morning for a couple of hours with Thierry, Chanchal and the team by weeding, watering, seeding, planting, wheelbarrowing, hoeing, anythinging for this Garden without Borders.

Now that I have been on the land for a whole year, through all the seasons, I am humbled and in awe to witness the change in seasons and how the land… breathes.

Being a tender of the land, I assume I see what some patrons don’t see, those patrons who only come for a day and are gone.

I have seen the ant highway

shift and change from one concrete step down to the rooted dirt path near the sage.

I notice that the borage and it’s courageous medicine isn’t here this year, huh.

And I was truly moved on that cold fall day when I arrived on the land and nearly all of the leaves of the Broad Leaf Maple Trees had completely fallen off the trees.

I felt naked with/for them.


Last weekend, I attended my first Herb Gathering at Innisfree, and to be honest, I was nervous that it would feel too… crowded.

They were expecting 300 people on the land, eeeek. I was nervous not just about being near that many people, but nervous for the land, for the grasses, the smaller limbs of trees, the wee bees.  By the end though, I felt so much love in my heart, so connected. I didn’t want this village to end.

There are two people I forgot to acknowledge before we shared the great song at the end of the last day, and that’s Chanchal and Thierry.

Two humans with the biggest hearts and the most capacity I have ever seen to navigate all of the inter-communications and idiosyncrasies of so many human beans on their land.  Never have I ever felt so welcome.

Every day I feel so blessed that my early morning arrival is all by myself on the land.  When the Robin signs and Red Tailed Hawk squawks, sweet Steller’s Jay quakes and Palliated Woodpecker knocks me and the tree awake, once again bringing me back to the here and now.

Finally, after gathering my supplies, I settle into a task, and just like clockwork, Thierry swoops in without a sound with the biggest, most beautiful, soulful smile greets me and asks…

“Are you happy with this task?”


Just writing this is making my heart gush because I feel so much love and warmth for this extraordinary human bean.

I think Thierry is expanding my capacity to love and to trust again.  My heart is physically feeling warm as I write this, and my eyes are leaking… ah.


Support the founders of Innisfree Farm, and lift up these extraordinary human beans.
Found in Royston, BC on Trent Road, open on the weekends with a shop and a nursery.

Jamie shares the experience of building a village along-side masters.

I already can’t wait until Next Year’s Herb Gathering.

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