Jo Ann Gardner, Herb Gardening Writer – Biographies – MOTHER EARTH NEWS – Mother Earth News
Surname: Jo Ann Gardner
Job: Writer, lecturer
Residence: Westport, New York
Background and personal history: For 30 years, Jo Ann and her husband Jigs ran a hand / horse drawn farm on Cape Breton Island producing butter and cheese from a small herd of Jersey cows. Jo Ann started a small business, Jo Ann’s Kitchen & Garden, which specialized in dried herb flavors, natural pectin jams and jellies, and flower seeds from her garden, which were sold primarily at local craft sales and on the farm.
Jo Ann’s property was the “no” capital of the world: no water pipes, no telephone, no other vehicle than horse-drawn carriages. But on a bare farm with barren soil and a harsh maritime climate, the couple created a lush, beautiful landscape of fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, roses and wildflowers, which they wrote about in their book Gardens of Use & Delight: The practical and the beautiful unite in one integrated landscape. They have been living in a renovated one-room schoolhouse with extensive gardens and poultry flocks since 2001.
Jo Ann’s bare life has directly inspired her books, lectures, and hundreds of articles in American and Canadian publications. She has given lectures at home and abroad and written a number of books, most of them still in print and in new editions. They’re old-fashioned jams, jellies, and canned sweet foods (originally The Old-Fashioned Fruit Garden); The Heirloom Garden; Life with herbs; Herbs in bloom; Gardens of Use & Delight with Jigs Gardner; Elegant silver with Karen Bussolini; and finally the seeds of transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible through plants. In Canada, Jo Ann’s essays on gardening and fruit growing appeared in Garden Voices: Two Centuries of Canadian Gardening; Berries and Favorite Plants from Canadian Gardening Magazine.
As Jo Ann tells her children, she was green when green was just a color. Life on the farm was tough, but she enjoyed the challenge. Jo Ann milked cows, made cheese and butter, learned to use a chop saw in the forest and became the top hand in the hay field, where she made tons of loose hay. She found that the skin freshener (herbs soaked in apple cider vinegar) that she sold under her own label worked very well in field conditions.
Jo Ann and her husband regularly write for the Amish-sponsored magazine Farming: People, Land, Community and she writes for the food blog The Jew and the Carrot.
She enjoys working in her cottage garden (her favorite type), where she enjoys having herbal pots right outside the kitchen door that she can use anytime. But she also plants herbs in the landscape for their scents, colors, textures, and attraction to birds and butterflies.
Jo Ann and her husband enjoy creating show gardens of herbs, vegetables and flowers at their local fair, and an entrance garden at their health center on a voluntary basis. In this way, she feels able to give back to a community that has been good to her.
Current projects: Publication of her new book, Seeds of Transcendence, on plants of the Bible, a project that took six years to complete. Jo Ann lectures on related topics (Solomon’s Garden: Exploring the Biblical Roots of Holy Land Flora), as well as related topics such as The New American Bible Garden: Planting the Bible Across America, the Book of Ruth, and Biblical Agriculture upon request. She also writes articles on Biblical subjects, most recently on the bitter herbs of Passover, a favorite subject, and she continues to write about the view from Jo Ann’s Kitchen & Garden, where she has lived most of her life (when she was not in the barn or outside on the grass). Jo Ann hasn’t forgotten her in-depth presentations on herbs, cottage gardens (sometimes with jigs) and hardy roses.
Other fun facts: Jo Ann has reached her 8th decade. Life is just beginning!
More places to find Jo Ann on the web:
Books by Jo Ann Gardner
Jo Ann Gardner on Facebook