As you may already know, we host the Sunshine Coast Paleo/Primal/Real Food Meetup Group and one of our members mentioned she volunteers at the Buddina Community Garden!
Monika Sprott organises events at the gardens and is a keen paleo-follower who's had an incredible health journey. We're holding our next meetup at the gardens this Saturday so we thought it'd be a great time to blog about that and let Monika tell her inspirational and interesting story!
I sat down with Mon recently and here's the chat we had...
Aimee: So what's been your health journey so far Mon?
Monika: In November 2012 I went into surgery to remove an enlarged lymph node on my neck. Just as I was about to go in the surgeon told me there was more than 1 lump so it was probably lymphoma. In that moment I knew that all the things I had learned, heard and read about Health were going to come into effect when I woke up.
For me, I had been eating unhealthily for years thinking that I could get away with it.
As I healed after the operation a good friend, with more knowledge than I, gave me a list of things to do. The first one being to cut out sugar, which I did. I initially followed the “I Quit Sugar” plan (all sugar initially, including natural ones like fruit and honey) and this helped me immensely to change my eating habits. For me because I had a strong reason to do it, it was easy.
The tests for cancer came back inconclusive; it was something (probably mutated cells that would have become cancerous but were not yet so.)
Three months later I went back in to surgery to remove the lump as they do not remove cancerous lymph nodes and it was still there.
One of the other things that my friend suggested was also to walk more.
Aimee: Wow that's so interesting! Good on you for making such positive changes to your health!
How long have you been at the gardens for? What is your role there?
Monika: Four days after my surgery on a walk with a friend I discovered the Buddina Community Garden. I had not really been interested in gardening but it made sense to get a garden bed to grow my own food healthy food within walking distance from home, but not at home so that I would have to walk to attend to my garden.
Initially my focus at the garden was just to grow food for myself and not get involved in the social side. My gardening and health learning curve was steep. Every day I was learning new things, whether it was how to manage pests, grow tomatoes to the healing properties of food, ie. using food as medicine.
Now at the garden my role is as workshop/event coordinator and vice president but primarily I still love to just garden, talk to my growing food and marvel at the fact that from tiny seeds we can produce so much nutrition.
Aimee: What do you enjoy most about being involved at the gardens?
Monika: It didn’t take long to start to get more involved in the communal aspect of gardening, I love dealing with people and learning and teaching (I was a primary school teacher years ago).
I now want to share with people the magic of growing your own food. I use the word "magic" because it truly is wonderful to watch something grow from a seed, harvest, prepare and eat it, it just feels right!
Aimee: That's terrific! Sounds like you're an asset to the garden for sure!
What exciting things are happening at the gardens now and into the future?
Monika: We have commenced holding workshops at the garden and have already held one successful workshop with Cath Manuel from Soil to Supper on “Growing Healthy Gardens”, giving the fundamentals of gardening, beginning with having healthy living soil.
On the 7th June you and Clint from Primal Influence and the paleo meetup group will be holding a meetup at the Buddina Community Garden which will be an excellent opportunity for people to come along and learn more about Paleo/Primal eating and to see the gardens and how they work in so well with a primal lifestyle.
There are some more very exciting developments currently being discussed that I cannot release yet but follow our Facebook page - you will be able to keep in touch with what is happening at the garden, get gardening hints and be inspired by the food we are growing.
Aimee: We're really looking forward to the meetup and BBQ at the gardens and hope we get a good turn out!
So what are your personal health and wellness goals for the future?
Monika: Once I had cut out sugar, I moved on to cut out out processed foods and grains and in that process discovered that there was a name for what I was doing and it was called Paleo/primal/real food. I prefer the term real food, and love that the food I grow is as real as it can be.
I lost 14kg in the process of cutting out sugar/grains but did not cut out fats at all (don’t get me started about the misinformation that abounds on good fats)
I plan on continuing what I am doing, no sugar, no processed grains and grass fed meats. I am not 100% a follower of any approach in particular, I have created what is right for me. I continue to enjoy sharing what I learn via the garden and my own facebook arenas.
I will grow my own food
I will eat health giving foods
I will grow and produce what I can.
I will continue to learn.
Aimee: What advice would you give to people going through a similar situation to you?
Monika: To take control of your own health, if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one will.
Always continue to learn, we never know everything.
Where possible GROW YOUR OWN FOOD. Anyone can do it whether you have a polystyrene box on the verandah, or a Community Garden or a massive veggie garden, anyone can do it
Aimee: I always like to ask... what is your favourite quote or affirmation and why?
Monika: "Live your life fully" and “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
Aimee: How can people find out more about you and/or the gardens?
Monika: Our Facebook page is the most current way of knowing whats happening
We have a website or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Come along to a workshop or join the garden as a member ($20 per year) or lease a garden bed ($40 for 6 months)
Aimee: What is your favourite healthy meal to make for the family?
Monika: I make a terrific thai chicken salad and use fresh ingredients from the garden. Delicious, nutritious and easy!
Aimee: Sounds yum!
What are your favourite books, DVD’s, websites etc relating to health and wellness?
And who inspires you?
Monika: I am inspired by many people now. I follow The Micro Gardener and Soil to Supper which both have excellent info on how to grow food at home.
Primal Influence has terrific information and guidance on eating and living naturally.
Pete Evans is doing excellent things awith bringing Primal health and nutrition to mainstream consciousness.
I could go on…. But they are an awesome foursome to start with :)
Aimee: Thanks Monika! It was great to hear your story, your involvement with the garden and what inspires you. Thanks for chatting!
That was my convo with the lovely Monika! Isn't she great!
If you'd like to come along to the meetup this weekend at Buddina Community Garden please check out the event details here and we'll see you on Saturday!
5 things I'm grateful for:
1. Seeing a whale and dolphins at Noosa last week
2. Picking sweet raspberries every day
3. The fun farm tour meetup at Eumundi Beef last Saturday
4. Having a natural home and not using any chemicals or toxins