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A Love of Life, Gardening And Food. How We Came To Be Jim and Mary

This past week was a big milestone for the blog as we passed our 30,000,000th visitor to the site. When we first started talking about gardening, canning, cooking and living a more simple life – neither of us realized just how many people really wanted to do the same.

Jim and Mary

Jim and Mary – With some of our finest friends.

But one thing has become apparent with the growth of the website – every day, week, and year – more and more people want to slow down and live a more simple and fulfilling life.

And if there is one question we seem to get more than any other these days – it is this : “How did it all start for you two?” 

So we thought for this week’s Farm Update, we would share one of the chapters from our book Growing Simple that tells how we, and the farm came to be. We hope you enjoy…

How It All Started – How We Became Jim and Mary

We can both write and talk all day long about gardening, our farm, our goals, chickens, bees, recipes or any other thing that covers the topic of Old World Garden Farms. It is easy. It is what we know. It is what we care about. It is what we love. But it’s quite different when we sat down to write a section together about our relationship, and how it all came to be.

We realized instantly that it is hard to put into words what we share and how lucky we are. I will never say we take for granted what we have together, but we both realize how fortunate we are to have crossed each other’s paths. People that hear us speak or meet us for the first time usually ask if we were high school sweethearts. They point to the fact that we share so much in common, that we do everything together, and that we are so at ease with each other.

jim and mary

If it is talking gardening or the farm – we are always all smiles

Yes, every single one of those statements is true. But the whole truth is that until we met, we both went through some difficult times in our own lives. I think the key for both of us, and something we always try to pass on to others is that no matter where you are in your life, and no matter what situation you face – you can face it with a positive attitude and an open mind. I really think in a nutshell that is what helps us tackle anything.

Mary and I grew up less than 30 miles apart – but it wasn’t until later in life that we were fortunate enough to have our lives finally collide together. We were actually both married in 1993, just not to each other. Yes, like many Americans, we are a blended family, and every day we realize how incredibly fortunate we are to have each other, and four kids that have blended and bonded so well together. We laugh at how many times our paths probably crossed without ever knowing it. We both played sports at rival catholic high schools at the same time – and we know that there had to be many times we were watching and rooting against each other.

It gets better – both of our first marriages were performed by the same priest, which happened to by my Uncle, who also baptized both of our first-born in the same church without either of us knowing it. Sometimes we wonder how we never officially met –but it certainly goes without saying that all good things come to those who wait.

Our parents planted the seeds of gardening in us as kids - my mom in her garden in the mid-70's.

Our parents planted the seeds of gardening in us as kids – my mom in her garden in the mid-70’s.

For us, it was only fitting that for two people who grew up loving sports – it was their children’s sporting events that finally brought them together. We met at a basketball game, and the rest as they say, is history.

When Mary and I finally met – it was instant. We realized from the moment we first spoke to each other that we were simply meant to be. I can’t describe it, and neither can Mary. We are one. We believe in each other. We believe in ourselves. We know that at the end of the day – no matter what has happened, that we will be there for each other. Together, that bond has carried us through. There are not many sentences that we can’t finish for each other, and not many ideas we don’t at least agree about in some shape or form. I think what makes us strong as a team is that we are both very strong individuals. We don’t dwell on the negative, 

We have so very many people to thank for our positive outlook and attitude and for helping to make our own dreams becoming a reality. The list is full of siblings, relatives and close friends who helped shape our lives – but without fail – it all started with our parents. Each of our parents helped shape our formative years with an emphasis on working hard for what you want and what you believe in. They didn’t just talk the walk – they walked it.

jim and mary

Mary’s parents on their 50th wedding anniversary day

We are both so very blessed to have had 4 parents who were never afraid to get their hands dirty – and who made sure we got dirty as well! Both sets of parents gardened, canned, and loved to share family meals. They planted those seeds in us at an early age. They exposed us to the wonders of our own backyards. Whether it was time spent in the garden planting and harvesting, or even the dreaded chores of weeding – we learned valuable life skills while breathing in the fresh air of the great outdoors.

The list could go on and on – mowing, raking leaves, planting trees or helping in the flowerbeds, but the simple fact is our parents taught us both the beauty of nature and the value of a little hard work and sweat. They taught us how to grow our own food – and more importantly – that it was okay to get our hands dirty. Yes – like most kids with those memories, I think we can both be honest and admit that at the time we might not have appreciated our mandatory participation in the assigned chores – but I can tell you they laid the groundwork for what we love today. In addition to all of that – they taught us it was okay to make mistakes. And that it was far more important to keep our heads up and learn from those miscues than to hang them in defeat.

We have both made mistakes, had success, failure, and everything in between. And we will continue to do all of those with gusto. It is who and what we are about – and why it is so important to the story of Old World Garden Farms. Yes, it is okay to fail, and it is okay to get knocked down – but most importantly, you simply have to keep trying for what you love and believe in. It is an example that we both hope that we are passing down to our own children as well. And with that – you know a little about us.  Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary

You can find our new book, Growing Simple at To receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.