As a child, my grandmother used to have a stocked freezer full of chicken soup. When anyone she knew became ill, she was there to give them the nourishing ‘medicine’. She was the one who instilled in me my beliefs in the power of foods for health.
In my early teens, I took a job as support staff in a fine dining establishment. I worked with a team of incredibly professional servers, these four skilled men worked the room with such finesse and charm, it was like watching a choreographed performance. They were the ones who instilled my appreciation for intuitive hospitality.
As a young adult, I moved to downtown Vancouver. I had no defined direction or career goals so I continued to grow within the restaurant world. It was what I knew and enjoyed. I met amazing people along the way and became quite skilled myself in service.
In my mid twenties, I started reflecting. I started to think a little more actively about what I wanted from life and who I wanted to be. I enrolled in a program the would open my eyes to the world of holistic nutrition. That was when the pieces really started to really fall into place. It was a fascinating niche to dive into and the effects from the knowledge I gained changed my views on the health and wellness world significantly.
In my late twenties, I was hired on in a management position for a successful hospitality company. I was given the opportunity to work within a team that was developed with a coach. This coach worked with us to help us define and follow through with both career and personal goals. That was when I started to take accountability for my journey.
For my thirtieth birthday, I travelled to France & Italy for a few weeks. It may have been a short time but it was filled with so many ah-ha moments and growth that I almost didn't want to come home. Simply because I knew I was ready to move beyond the day to day I had waiting for my return, which was both an exhilarating and scary thought at the same time. When I arrived back in Vancouver, I took a strong hold on my beliefs and skills and combined them to take action on the next steps in my life.
I quit my job and gave notice on my apartment. I packed up my bags and left Vancouver for Victoria and found myself in the same position as I did as a young adult; no defined direction. This time however, I had a pretty strong idea of what in life was important to me, and what I was going to do to to live my values and dreams. I even had a list...
learn to grow vegetables
prepare my own foods daily
be physically active everyday
connect with nature
practice holistic nutrition
Life got really interesting (and was a total trip) as I started to practice this list religiously.
I started cooking a lot. I experimented with combining the nutritional knowledge I had gained with the skills I had witnessed practiced by so many talented chefs I met over the years. It was creative and fun.
I started volunteering in a veggie garden. Each week I would ride to the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP) in Saanich, get my hands dirty in the soil, connect with the earth and tend to the plants with care and ease. Harvest was split between the group to take home. I loved this part of my week. I used the vegetables in my recipes.
I started running and swimming a lot. I became really strong both physically and mentally.
People started to see the positive effects these actions were taking and, before long, I was asked to start preparing meals for others who were trying to meet their own personal wellness goals. In no time, I had over 10 clients that I was cooking for each week and I was holding down a full time job. I quit the job to focus fully on what was happening. It was a massive leap of faith. I knew I was going somewhere though, my direction finally had flight.
In late February of 2010, I rode my bike out the HCP to work in the garden. It was the first time back after a winter break. I walked into the classroom building where the volunteers would congregate and I noticed a little kitchen attached to the room - I peeped in and did a scan. Two fridges, a stove, a sink, and a VIHA approval sign. This was a space that I could run a legitimate ‘personal catering’ business from. I went straight to the directors office and asked if the kitchen was available for rent. I envisioned using the space a couple days a week to cook for my clients from. After a fairly brief discussion and learning what was needed at the garden and sharing my skill-set and background with the director of the gardens, it was agreed that I would open a cafe in the classroom building with the kitchen.
In early April 2010, Nourish in the Garden opened it’s doors....
The years that have followed have offered the proof of the power that vision, belief, persistence and hard work have on life.
Thank you so much for being a part of the journey!
Much love, Hayley
Photography by Lyndsey Eden - Website