By Danielle French

Inspired by nature

I am finding it difficult to write about recipes and food even though I love cooking. But I am inspired by what I read and see from others, especially bread-baking. My mind is filled with so many things these days. How to be responsible for my employees, where our future is, will we recover, will we as a community, as a planet be able to make a shift.  As the day ends, I cobble together some sort of dinner for us and it is not very inspirational. 

In putting my thoughts together, I can only draw on my own experience and business. I know COVID-19 is forcing us all to rethink things and how we operate. I feel positive most days and ready to take on the changes I need to make. There are other days I am filled with sadness and helplessness on how to help. I want to listen to the news but then I don’t. 

My “Covid-19 day” was March 15th. The virus was already everywhere but it was the day that I knew not all was well close by and it was real. It was the day we made changes. In 2009, I began my business making food for others and delivering it. My first thought was to go back to that simple model. It felt right. We were in a relationship with the Kendal Hills Farmers Market as we regularly use their amazing mushrooms in our dinners. They saw an opportunity to connect more people with not only their products but other small scale producers. It has proven in just a few short weeks to be a win/win model for everyone. 

Overnight we all seemed to pivot and embrace this new reality and I know so many others have as well. I try to look at it as an opportunity to see how we can do better here at the farm, connect as a team and with our customers. My daily comfort is nature, going out on solitary walks with the puppies through the forest. Lately, I see things I never saw clearly before. The majestic stand of birches, the way the land drops and rises, the grass as it begins to green. Recently, I noticed three different trees that have grown intertwined with each other over decades. I know this sounds a bit corny, but I deeply connected to it. It’s how I look at what I do. One of the trees may get cut or damaged but there are the two others, or even just one, firmly rooted that keep going. For the first time, my family who often jokes at my having too many ideas, may see that it’s not always a bad thing. Those ideas will keep us going for a little while. We are a farm, can grow more of our own food, we can help sustain others with what we make, our bread and soup. 

Each of you have other “trees” that you can draw on for inspiration.  I know many of us are all thinking about what we can do as businesses to reinvent ourselves and possibly re-evaluating our purpose on this planet. I am still confident that our planet will have us even though so much damage has been done. This is a time for reset and renewal. 

Be safe, mindful of others and if you can, immerse yourself in nature and take deep breaths into your lungs – even if only for even a short while. It is deeply energizing.

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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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