A yard flower farm helps a younger couple beat most cancers

Eight months after her husband, Chad, was recognized with stage 4 lung most cancers, Stacey Vanags planted 1,100 flower seeds in her yard in Ventura.

“One thing known as me to do that,” Stacey mentioned of her small flower farm. “I wanted an escape.”

Chad, 40, and Stacey, 43, have been already rising greens, elevating a flock of chickens and three cats, and dreaming of constructing an city farm on their half-acre lot subsequent to Freeway 101 downtown.

Then, in July 2022, Chad acquired some devastating information.

Throughout a routine go to to the physician for what he assumed was lengthy Covid after a persistent cough, Chad, who had by no means smoked, discovered he had non-small cell lung most cancers. Scans confirmed that the most cancers had unfold to his lungs, bones, lymph nodes and mind. The oncologist advised him he would dwell from six months to a 12 months with out therapy.

“He mentioned I used to be incurable,” Chad mentioned quietly.

That was 15 months in the past.

Whenever you meet Chad in individual, it is onerous to consider he has a terminal sickness. He appears to be in nice form, and surfs repeatedly He travels around the world For weeks at a time. He had few signs or unwanted effects moreover dizziness from an FDA-approved focused drug known as Tagrisso. However studying to dwell with most cancers whereas making an attempt to maneuver ahead wasn’t simple for the expertise gross sales coach.

That is why Chad says he is grateful that Stacey can stroll exterior and care for her flowers if his temper will get darkish, particularly when his melancholy will get too intense some days.

“I had a tough seven days on my surf journey to Puerto Escondido,” he mentioned, standing within the backyard as he watched his spouse lower zinnias, lace flowers, goodies and straw flowers to arrange bouquets. “It was onerous for Stacey as a result of she could not escape into the flowers. I see the backyard as a spot the place she will get better from most cancers. It provides us objective and which means every single day.

Stacey is not any totally different. “I missed the flowers after we have been in Mexico,” she mentioned. “There’s a flexibility to vegetation. It’s a language in itself.”

Stacie Vanags cuts flowers to prepare a bouquet
Stacie Vanags stands in her flower garden

Stacie Vanags cuts zinnias and strawflowers in her yard for a present bouquet. (Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Low angle view of pink straw flowers.

Strawberry flowers, which could be dried and preserved, develop on the Taquila farm.

(Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Like artistic endeavors, flowers could be interpreted nevertheless the recipient would love – as an expression of affection, condolences or thanks. However its magnificence and impression aren’t restricted to those that obtain it. It’s also a present for the gardener who takes care of it, waters it, and watches it develop. “It is like watching magic,” Stacey mentioned.

The couple, who met in Chicago in 2008 and have been married for 11 years, have been dwelling in a 500-square-foot house in Culver Metropolis once they stopped by the Ventura dwelling within the early days of the pandemic in March 2020. — The one-bedroom home wanted work, however they known as They instantly approached the vendor and made a suggestion after seeing his large yard.

“Nature has a manner of embracing us and supporting us after we least anticipate it.”

– Stacey Hook

The lot, which CalTrans used as a car parking zone in the course of the development of Freeway 101 many years in the past, was stuffed with overgrown morning glories, citrus timber and three outdated trailers. However it supplied countless prospects. The couple envisioned constructing a home within the again and renting it out within the entrance. Or create a regenerative farm the place they’ll dwell off the land.

They acquired the home and spent the following 11 months transforming it earlier than transferring to the yard, which they become a small farmhouse they name Tequila farmnamed after their love of tea and tequila.

Dianthus, top and marigold flowers
Tequila Ranch sign.

Dianthus, marigolds and chocolate lace bloom at Tequila Farm in Ventura. (Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Impressed by the 2018 documentary “Largest little farm” And success Flower farm Seed firm in Washington state, the couple eliminated many years’ price of gravel themselves utilizing a rented bobcat and Amended the soil With three inches of natural topsoil and native California cowl crop seeds.

When it got here time to plant flowers, Stacey, who had no gardening expertise, was afraid however pushed ahead. “Crucial factor was simply taking a leap of religion by studying the again of the seed packet and trusting the method,” she mentioned. “It is easy to get caught up in all of the planning and logistics and by no means get began with ‘the factor’.”

Whereas Chad was in India filming what he described as a “mission-based, goal-oriented journey Travel offer“Stacey and her brother spent three weekends making use of layers of compost to their backyard plots after studying Erin Benzkin’s guide.”Florette Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Planting, harvesting and arranging stunning seasonal flowers And watch YouTube movies. With an emphasis on variety and flowers that dry nicely, she has grown 20 varieties, together with zinnias, statis, honeysuckle, candy peas and backyard cress, utilizing… Landscape fabric and blowtorch To chop material and stop fraying. She estimates she spent about $800 on seeds, compost, seed starter soil, seed trays and a drip system, which Chad put in. “I am a methods man,” he joked.

Woman standing in flower garden

Stacie Vanags stands in her flower backyard, with Freeway 101 within the background. The couple’s duplex lot was used as a car parking zone for CalTrans throughout development of the freeway.

(Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

To Stassi’s delight, the backyard took off after an unusually moist spring in Southern California this 12 months. However she will not be the one one who has benefited from her crop. It’s a therapeutic haven for others.

“Somebody reached out to me on Fb yesterday and requested if she may come over and lower a bouquet as a result of she had been struggling currently,” mentioned Stacey, who works at a digital therapeutics firm. “Nature has a manner of embracing us and supporting us after we least anticipate it.”

There have been others. Throughout her inaugural rising season, Stassi invited neighbors and pals to chop bouquets throughout casual U-Choose classes. She lately created child bathe centerpieces for 75 individuals. Trying to the long run, she hopes to create flower preparations for native companies, host on-site workshops, and develop a company wellness program targeted on The benefits of flowers on mental health. The expertise has enabled her to consider subsequent 12 months’s rising season, which she hopes will embody dahlias, foxgloves and marigolds.

Stacey mentioned she by no means supposed to develop flowers. “It was as if nature was saying to me: ‘You are going to want this,'” she mentioned. “I can go away my tears within the backyard.”

Delicate zinnia petals in a shade of orange.

Delicate zinnia petals with a hard-to-identify shade grown on Tiacquila Farms.

(Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

An impartial one that enjoys engaged on her personal, Stassi used the method of planting flowers and watching them develop to assist her with Chad’s most cancers analysis. “Seeing the wonder and resilience of flowers gave me nice consolation and hope throughout a really tough time,” she mentioned. “I can not think about my life with out them now.”

“The flowers are positively a break for her,” mentioned buddy and neighbor Sean McFatridge. “I’ve by no means heard her discuss her struggles. I believe the flowers are a coping mechanism for her. Whereas Chad focuses on extracting the whole lot he can from life, Stacey makes use of the flowers as a therapeutic apply.

For Chad, most cancers is each the tip and the start. he He talks openly about his diagnosis To encourage others to dwell authentically. for him Videos on InstagramIt “paperwork the start of the tip” of his life, and has gone viral, amassing greater than 102,000 followers. Nonetheless, he admits to affected by debilitating anxiousness, which he calls “fear,” earlier than follow-up scans that monitor the most cancers.

However being open about his well being additionally introduced with it life-changing relationships with others. “Most cancers taught me that individuals are good,” Chad mentioned. “I admire individuals extra now than ever. I give extra hugs.

Many plants and flowers are on display at Takila Farm.

An ocean of shade and tranquility is on show at Teaquila Farm.

(Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Chad and Stacey Vanage sit in their flower garden.

“I see the backyard as a spot the place you may get most cancers aid,” Chad Vanags mentioned. “It provides us objective and which means every single day.”

(Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Every week after Chad was recognized with most cancers, McFatridge knocked on the couple’s entrance door and invited them to strive his new therapy. CrossFit gym The tip of the road.

Chad was nonetheless reeling. “I used to be offended and advised him I had been recognized with lung most cancers and I wasn’t able to train proper now,” Chad recollects.

An hour later, there was one other knock on the door. McFatridge is again. This time, he wasn’t promoting gymnasium memberships door to door.

“He mentioned he could not cease fascinated by me and wished to know if he may do something to assist,” Chad mentioned. McFatridge and different members of the gymnasium then started coaching meals for the couple. “It turned me on,” Chad mentioned.

Pink flowers dry at the edge.

Flowers dry on a ledge within the Vanage household’s yard.

(Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Wheelbarrow next to a palm tree
A red hen pokes her head around some lemons hanging from a tree.

Scenes from Chad and Stacey Vanage’s small flower farm in Ventura. (Maria Tugger/Los Angeles Occasions)

Immediately, other than the adjoining Freeway 101 remaining fixed, a lot has modified of their downtown Ventura dwelling. The pale sides of their home at the moment are painted a heat gray. The entrance yard is stuffed with native California vegetation and pollinators. Strawberry flowers and seeds dry on the patio and eating room desk. Butterflies and birds flock to the flowers blooming in even rows within the yard.

Chad exceeded his dire expectations.

Is it attainable to understand resilience and hope within the face of an incurable illness? Stacey thinks the flowers helped; Like nature and the ocean, she mentioned, it reminds her that “there’s something larger than me on the market.”

“I didn’t search for flowers,” she added. “I am satisfied they discovered me.”

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *