By Danielle French

A Season in Review

For me, autumn has always signified a fresh start; a new beginning, a time to reflect on the busy summer months that seem to pass by far too quickly. After starting my journey with South Pond Farms in May of this year, I have a whole new perspective on what is means to have a “busy” summer. As a place for gatherings – both public and private- the farm truly comes alive in the summer months. From weddings to supper clubs, corporate retreats to workshops, my first season at the farm passed by in a blur of chiffon and lace. It is only now, after the tucking away the remnants of our summer scheduling, that I have had a moment to sit back and reflect on what a season it has been.

This morning, over warm chai tea and cool wooden floor boards, I contemplated the highs and the lows of our summer- What were some lessons that I learned this season? What could I take away from this unique experience? Undoubtedly, I learned a lot in my new role as the Marketing and Special Event Coordinator but one lesson that I learned, and often ‘re-learned’, was the importance of being prepared. Now, I’m confident that my girl scout leader is reading this and wondering why it has taken the better part of 28 years for this message to sink in- so let me explain. This season has taught me a lot about expecting the unexpected; weather forecasts can change in the blink of an eye, there will always be a guest that fails to appear on our RSVP list, wine orders WILL get lost and there will always be unanticipated delays. Unpredictability is simply the nature of this industry.

If I am honest, I have always been quite decent at drafting contingency plans; you know, setting extra places (just incase), and making sure that the bar is stocked with extra wine… it is emotional preparedness that I struggle with. It is rationally separating my emotions from my reactions when we face a harsh criticism, when all of our planning goes out the window due to a last minute change, or when there is a looming deadline and the printer breaks. It is easy to get overwhelmed in moments like this -it is easy to react out frustration. I think most of us know how detrimental these reactions can be. By observing my colleagues and many of our fantastic guests I saw time and again, just how impactful it can be, to move forward from a place of compassion. I learned that positivity and patience doesn’t come from being able to control your circumstance but rather, from choosing a state of mind amidst chaos. At South Pond, and probably in most careers, there will always be elements beyond our control; but learning to channel positive emotions in whatever the circumstance, was perhaps the greatest take away I had from this summer at South Pond.

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Danielle French - Ash Naylor Photography

About Danielle

Looking for a simpler way of life for her four daughters and herself, Danielle moved from Toronto to this farm in the Bethany Hills of Southern Ontario, and over time together with her family and her partner Shawn, restored the barn, the iconic heritage silo and the land.

Danielle loves to create unique settings and menus for the many events she offers at South Pond Farms, such as authentic farm-to-table gatherings, bread-making workshops, culinary classes, and weddings. Danielle’s vision is to inspire others to share her vision of a traditional life and way of cooking and to feel the sense of history on this beautiful land.  

Danielle was also the host of a television series called Taste of the Country

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