Hannah, Joshua, and Benjamin Braucht harvest carrots last fall.

Original Published May 5, 2022

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Travis and Charlene Braucht have been gardening since they married 25 years ago. They began on and off market gardening with their children in 2010. Recently, they’ve started including local native plants in their harvest.

“I have a garden all around me in nature,” says Travis. “Typically by the time we start planting, there are many plants already growing and lots of it is food.”

The Braucht family lives on an acreage near Kinuso. In 2010, Travis took the summer off so the family could garden together and sell vegetables at farmer’s markets. The last few years they’ve stopped going to farmer’s markets, but still sell a few items.

“I just put up birch syrup for sale,” says Travis.

This is a new project for the family. They are in the midst of tapping birch trees for syrup. They’ll also be collecting poplar buds to make a healing salve.

“There are quite a few plants around us with medicinal value,” says Travis.

They’ll also be harvesting dandelions and stinging nettles.

“That all becomes part of my garden,” he adds.

“It can be challenging to make a living gardening in the north but maybe not so challenging if we notice what’s already around us,” says Travis.

He’s recently found out that there are even some plants which can be harvested in the winter. One of these is Labrador tea, which grows in wetlands in the boreal forest.

The whole family gardens together as part of homeschooling.

Not only are they incorporating the natural world into their garden, their house has become a garden. They’ve been harvesting Swiss chard and other plants indoors since February.

They also start some plants inside and transplant them but he says transplanting challenges his abilities presently.

The garden doesn’t just supply food. It’s therapeutic.

Travis is very open about his struggle with depression. He’s found gardening helpful in overcoming it.

“It’s a gift from heaven,” he says. “Sometimes when I’m in the garden I feel like I’m in heaven. The weight of the world lifts off my shoulders. It’s a form of participating in God’s economy.”

Not the typical birch sap extraction method, but one of the Braucht kids set this up for fun.

This item reprinted with permisson from Lakeside Leader, Slave Lake, Alberta