20 years at Mother's Garden

20 years at Mother's Garden

By Martin Kirby

20 years at Mother's Garden
January 19, 2001 (2am).

Twenty years ago today we bounced up the track to this farmhouse. Our new home. It was pitch black and bitterly cold. But we could not have been happier. Life had just changed beyond our wildest imaginings.  

Two days earlier we had boarded the 4am ferry from Dover to Calais en route to Catalunya. We were a motley convoy comprising our old car with roof box and trailer, a friend’s van and a hired seven tonne truck, all stacked with necessities from a piano to empty jars. Phil, Laurie, Rob and Yan were the helping hands and hearts.

Jammed in the car were two very determined, sleep- deprived adults running on adrenalin, a trusting five year old girl, Ella, a sleeping baby boy, Joe, two springer spaniels and precious little money.

We had no plan other than to rethink, to live, learn, be, to begin an odyssey in search of time - time at the table, in nature, growing, not missing a minute of our children’s lives. We had no idea regarding income, we just had our wits and an abiding drive to heed the undeniable truth that the greatest regrets in life are not things you have done but the things you never did. 

And there has not been one day of regret. Challenges, of course: Countless, some very steep. But we are living, learning, being, brimming with memories. And more. We found ourselves in a country that loves books – oh joy - a land of trees and mountains steeped in Mediterranean culture, a place to breathe, within a community that retains the invaluable understanding and goodness of trust and reciprocity.
We thank them, we count lucky stars and we continue to grow. We are so grateful to our children, now taller and in many ways wiser than us. We believe in them.
During those early years olive trees were patient with us. We harvested, but we bent our backs in the little vineyards longer than we should. The grove bided, and as the years rolled the time we spent with the trees increased, as did wisdom. Olive oil now sustains us, is core but by no means all that is Mother’s Garden. This little farm grows wilder by the day. Badger, deer and boar tracks in the snow yesterday.   

In 2004 we launched the Mother’s Garden olive oil brand in the UK. The few who trusted us have now become many. We love you all.  The many awards matter, but not as much as you. 

Thousands have come to stay. We hope we will welcome more once the world moves, hopefully to a best place of sustainability and reciprocity, not least with all living things and Mother Earth herself. 
Twenty years ago we also allowed a documentary team to chart our journey and our first years. Remarkably they are still available to watch if you are in the UK. Here is the Channel Four link.
And if you cannot sleep there are the books, one in print, the other an e-book

Keep safe.
Live the day.

Maggie, Martin, Ella & Joe

1 comment

  • Last night late, unable to sleep and my mind hurting with family worries I was consoled by finding your channel 4 story on my computer even though I am in Athens Greece locked down for a year now and unable to return to the UK due to covid. I was uplifted to observe your determination and courage to work so hard with such small financial rewards ..at least back then. I was able to sleep! Thinking about you today I somehow thought you would have abandoned your dream soon after the programme. I had to try to check . How wonderful to see you not only made it but thrived and more . 20 years later An inspiration of the strength of the human spirit . Do drop in if you come this way as being 78 I think I will stay here in the sun and the olive trees . Not that I could begin to prune them and I have 5 giant ones ! Bless you for your courage sabina

    Sabina on

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