Jean and Gord Dakin moved into town from Parson because they wanted to downsize, as many couples do as they pass retirement age, when maintaining a large expansive property becomes too much work.
However, the Dakins haven’t exactly put their feet up now that they live in Golden. Quite the opposite.
Not only do they maintain a sizeable garden on their own property, they also maintain the gardens of three of their neighbours who don’t have time to garden themselves. One of those gardens belongs to Sigi Liebmann, a local who allowed the Dakins to garden an area in the backyard of a house that he owns. The couple needed some extra space for their potatoes.
“We were wandering up and down the alley because we’ve got a garden on the other side…we got in contact with him and ended up with a patch of garden,” Gord said.
“He brought manure, he brought soil in,” Jean added.
The Dakins used Liebmann’s garden as a teaching tool, inviting a class from Lady Grey Elementary to help them plant potatoes and other vegetables each spring. The program has been a hit with the students, and one young girl has continued to help Jean once a week throughout the summer.
“When they first started and brought them down here…none of them wanted to get their hands dirty. By the end of the session they were up to their elbows,” Gord recalled.
Jean also got her start in the garden from a young age while growing up in Parson.
“My father was a farmer. We were very self-sufficient,” she explained. “One of my first memories is saving seed…he’d spread it out on the table and we’d have to pick out the big ones.”
The concept of seed-saving has stuck with Jean ever since. This year she planted peas from seeds that are now 50 years old.
The couple saves seeds by freezing them in envelopes, rather than plastic, in order to keep the seeds free of moisture.
The Dakins have also been longtime members of Seeds of Diversity, an organization that specializes in heritage plants, for over 30 years. They used to list some of their own seeds for use for other members, but have stopped doing that in recent years because it requires a lot of work.
Their gardens yield much more food than the two could ever eat themselves. A lot of the extra produce gets donated, to both the food bank and to older members of the community who might remember what a freshly picked tomato tastes like, but no longer have the means or the ability to garden themselves.
The Dakin gardens will once again feature in Golden’s third annual Edible Garden Tour, an event that the couple found to be very productive in the past. It offers an opportunity for curious beginners to pick the brains of veteran gardeners like the Dakins, but it also gives experienced gardeners a chance to trade ideas with each other about gardening in Golden.
The tour, which will include 12 home gardens from around the community, is set to take place on Aug. 22 and will begin at 10 a.m. Tour packages can be picked up at the Golden Museum for $10. For more information, call Joyce deBoer at 250-344-6741.