Looking back at the beginning of something, you can always see the threads that have woven through your life and experiences tying things together. In the moment it is so much harder to understand and appreciate that the experience of right now, your current joy, pain, hardship or mediocrity and your response to it is weaving these threads together to create your great story.
Our story really began with the loss of a mother and the breakup of a family foundation. Two young girls left wondering how to cope. When our parents decided to move us in together (Sarah's dad and Erins mom), it was far from a smooth transition. There were 8 kids to blend and many growing pains. The silver lining for us was the fact that a sister came with the new family (Sarah previously had two brothers- no sisters and Erin had four brothers-no sisters). We forged a sisterhood and alliance in adversity. Being picked on by so many brothers was infinitely more bearable when we had each other.
Through the years before university, we built the foundation for future Gaia. We always loved being outside and would often help with yard work and the vegetable garden. We still laugh about re-laying the interlock patio around our pool. There were six boys in our household and it was the two girls out in the sun doing the heavy labour. We joked about having our own landscaping company and the different specialties we would have within it. We spent a lot of time dreaming about crazy things, making up wild plans, and laughing about our outrageous ideas (not much has changed). Together we were always creative!
When it came time for university, we were off on our own journeys. Erin pursued Environmental studies and geography at Nippissing Univeristy and a couple of years later, Sarah headed to Laurentian University for Earth Sciences. Summer jobs were mainly outdoor work and even after university, we each spent time employed at garden centres and landscaping companies while searching for our "real jobs". In the summer of 2001, we landscaped on a crew together in Calgary. We had such an amazing time doing work we enjoyed as a team, challenging ourselves and discussing how we'd do things if we were in charge (again not much has changed!) We believe this summer made us honestly rethink our perspective on landscaping as a career.
By 2003 we were both married and had just purchased homes in New Hamburg. Erin, had just moved back from Alberta, and was now looking for work. Sarah was employed, but unhappy at a garden centre in the area. Armed with passion, determination and a bit of stubbornness we decided to get our hands dirty. That fall of 2003 our company, Gaia's Gardens, completed its first projects.
There have been many challenges along this garden path. Literal blood, sweat and tears. There have also been moments our hearts were full to bursting. We have gone from just the two of us, doing all of the hands-on work as well as the office work, to multiple trucks and crews out there working with our mission and vision leading them.
Today we can finally say, through all of this, we have finally discovered what we want to do when we grow up.
Erin and Sarah