She’s the entrepreneurial triple threat —she’s got creative ideas, a solid work ethic, and a welcoming spirit that’s contagious. Shelby Farquhar started Garden Gurus this summer as part of the Summer Company program, funded by the Province of Ontario. A Clinton resident, this 22 year-old found her passion for plants a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. She’s wise beyond her years too. When asked what made her decide to apply for the program she replied “I know I don’t learn well in traditional school settings but I wanted to learn business.” She prefers to learn by doing, and working outside with nature is what she loves.

Before and after pictures of her gardens.Shelby got her start working for a landscaping company last year, but had too many exciting ideas to stay put. She wanted to help people create beautiful and easy-to-maintain gardens, while also saving and recovering previously planted items for other locations. In fact, environmental sustainability is always at the forefront of her business decisions. She saves whatever plants she can, only uses natural weed solutions, and doesn’t use gasoline for her landscaping tools.

Shelby says she loves gardening because it gives her energy and she feels a connection to plants. She started gardening with her mom when she was younger and experienced first-hand the positive effect gardening has on people’s moods. Now, she wants to broaden her business to include the design and creation of healing gardens– circular meditation spaces of various sizes that are easy for people to maintain on their own. She’s full of amazing ideas for how to engage and help youth and other vulnerable populations through gardening too; she wants to promote gardening as a medium for healing, self-awareness and growth. Coming back to her infinite wisdom, she says her favourite analogy relates to gardening. It goes something like this:

Your mind is like a garden. Our negative thoughts are weeds, and our positive thoughts are the beautiful flowers. There will always be weeds, but they cultivate space for flowers, so they serve a purpose. The more we pluck the weeds, the more space is created for flowers, which then receive more light and water. Just like our positive thoughts, the flowers will flourish with enough space and light. Negative thoughts, like weeds, lessen over time with practice and dedication. For both, the process is extremely rewarding.

Before and after photos of her gardens.In addition to her wisdom, she’s also picked up some practical tips from her experiences so far: “My first gardening job was weeding a large property… It’s probably a good thing I didn’t realize how long it would take at the beginning of the project,” Shelby said. “It turned out to be four full days of weeding!” One of her other jobs was to weed sucker trees in a field of long grass. “I didn’t bring insect gear and ended up with bites everywhere after one day. Now, I’m always prepared with insect gear and long clothes,” she added with a laugh.

Shelby is one of the most self-aware 22 year-olds I’ve ever met. I can’t wait to see how her business transforms in years to come. She says she plans to continue the business indefinitely, and loves the mentorship and business training the Summer Company program provides. “It can be overwhelming to start a business,” she said, “so the program and funding help a great deal.” She also says the community has been very supportive, offering help and encouragement whenever possible. With her positive, sunny, and hard-working nature, it’s no wonder she has many repeat clients. If you need help with your existing gardens or are looking to design something new, call Shelby at (519) 441-3634 or weare@thegardengurus.ca.