So Monique came into my life in one of those serendipitous moments. She reached out to me about wanting to interview an artist we are working with Asta and I also wanted to interview Monique ! The timing of the exchange of passion and knowledge for how all things are interconnected only strengthened my belief in how the earth's energies flow when all is right. Getting moments such as this, make bonds tighter and stronger, letting us know we're on the right path. Have you ever had that feeling or tap on the back from the universe ? Thanks Monique for showing us around your insanely gorgeous garden and really inspiring us to move forth with The Bharani Effect. 

Tell us about yourself and your daily routine?

I wake up early and set the tone for the day with an elegant routine of exercise, meditation and a nutritious breakfast. Meditation is very important to me. I find I can be physically fit and healthy, yet if I’m not connected spiritually I lack wholeness that undermines who I am and my connection to all living things. It’s taken me quite some time to truly get this. I’ve been on a wellness mission to learn how to live and be well, spiritually and in all aspects of my life. What’s been most prominent is the importance of all aspects of wellbeing, to develop connectedness and wholeness in our minds, with the food we eat, our relationships and the environment.

My wellness mission developed a passion for the wellbeing of our earth, which is where I believe all wellbeing comes from.

What gardening did for me was help shift my mindset to understand what wellbeing truly means for the human, food and planet connection. Gardening is the transformational tool that helped make a conscious shift in the way I live my life today. It supports my work as an activist in our outer world for health and happiness, yet guides my inner being. After I experienced a profound transformation in my own health, I wanted to share this with others.

I’m a Personal Development, Health and Physical Education teacher and share my passion for wellbeing with students. In addition to teaching, I wanted to focus my energies on helping people in my own community. I joined a community garden and developed an online wellness website.

‘Grow to Love’ developed from seeing first hand, the impact of community action to restore hope and build an understanding of the powers of a garden for our wellbeing. I now spend my days living how I believe life ‘should’ be lived, through putting my face to the wind and living for my love of the outdoors, my garden and inspiring others to live and be well. It’s really liberating and educating all at once. And I don’t really mind what work I do, as long as it has a purpose. And at the end of my day, gardening and sharing my passion is what truly makes me happy.

You travel a lot – how do you make conscious choices whilst travelling?

Planning ahead is a must when it comes to travelling. I always stock up on nourishing snacks and pack easy, healthy meals that don’t need refrigeration. I take these meals on planes or in the car and drink plenty of purified water.

Wherever I go I make sure I pack my stables; nuts, greens and runners. I spend lots of time exploring new places on my feet and focus on supporting my immune system and energy levels by keeping active and eating well.

I also search for local markets and local farms where I can buy food, visit and see what they’re growing, sometimes having a taste too.

What are your top 5 conscious products you take with you when travelling?

-                 Green Powders

-                 Dry Brush

-                 Yoga Matt

-                 Runners

-                 Rosehip and Peppermint Oils

Tell us about your garden in these photos?

We grow everything from herbs to tomatoes and delicious eggplants. At this stage our garden has little produce as we are in the process of moving. Our family has always grown a garden and eaten real food from the earth. Since moving to Dubbo for a new teaching position, I have carried on my family’s passion for gardening, transforming many dirt plots into edible gardens. It’s fun, easy and comforting knowing where my food comes from. No pesticides, herbicides or chemicals. Just real food from the earth.

What are the easiest as well as your favourite things to grow?

My garden is my green family. Deciding on a favourite is very difficult. All plants are the golden child, yet kale is one of my favourites as I consume it often. Carrots and potatoes are great and are especially good for teaching children about gardening. They create excitement as children passionately search for the unknown veggie treasure beneath the soil.  

Tell us about being part of a community garden and what it involves?

Community gardens involve local residents collaborating together in the purpose of creating productive organic gardens. However, our Dubbo community garden and home gardens are about more than just growing food. They provide a meeting place and focus for social interaction, help to create a sense of community, foster a sense of power and ownership among residents and are a resource for sharing knowledge and ideas.

Our community garden starts a conversation within our community. I love this aspect and believe gardening is a unifying language that helps people themselves find a new way of living. People often ask questions about our garden and that’s what it’s all about.

If we can get people excited and asking questions about growing food, we begin to build an understanding about the true nature of food and the therapeutic powers of gardening for the wellbeing of our earth.

Tell us about grow to love – your website and the future plans for it?

Grow to Love originated from a desire to find purpose beyond living a life on the surface. I started a vision for Grow to Love as part of a larger project to heal myself from chronic fatigue syndrome; depression; and a destructive relationship with food.

Gardening became my therapeutic practice and my medicine cabinet for natural, alterative treatments to help restore my health and happiness.  Not only did gardening teach me about the power of food, it helped transform my life to live in awareness and with all living things

I now share the powerful practices and experiences from my garden that I employ daily that keep my monkey mind and fatigue at bay. My heart fuelled mission for Grow to Love is to empower others on their own wellness journeys, to see space around them differently, to get healthy, to grow their own food, to think about the resources they are using and to interact in a kind and sustainable way.

Expect to see Grow to Love predominately in the school system, where I believe a true ground roots shift in the way people eat, act and live can be made. I also health coach through my website and speak at numerous wellness events. I’ve got big plans for Grow to Love and I’m so excited for what’s to come.

Visit Grow To Love:

Photos + interview produced by thebharanieffect - our talented photographer is Maclay Heriot