This article by Diane Duvall originally appeared in the January/February issue of Northern Gardener.

“Gardening this year was an outlet for me for the what ifs,” says Jordyn Meskan, who was diagnosed with cancer around Christmas of 2019. “It’s been a healing place.”

young woman with seedlings

Jordyn Meskan

Jordyn grew up gardening, learning from her parents and her aunt, MSHS member Diane Meskan Schwecke. One of her earliest memories is of planting seeds in little pots with her family in the spring and then putting them in the ground. “We grew all kinds of vegetables and herbs as well as decorative plants,” says Jordyn. When she was in college, Jordyn even had a little kitchen garden on the countertop.

When Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz imposed a stay-at-home order in April, Jordyn, a civil engineer, was working from home. “It was really a blessing,” she says. She was undergoing radiation treatments five days a week and, with a weakened immune system, hunkering down at home protected her health. It also provided extra time to dig into one of her passions and plan her garden for the growing season. “I’m a doer who likes to see productivity in action,” says Jordyn. “I’m already planning the garden for my first home.”

Right now, her garden is at a family cabin in Waterville, about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities. In 2020, she planted sunflowers, bush beans, carrots, tomatoes and basil, among others. “We even pressed cider this year from my dad’s orchard.” She says the garden has been a family affair. “My aunt Diane and I would meet at the cabin to exchange plants and ideas. She’s been such a great resource.”

When Jordyn’s aunt gave her a gift membership to the society during the June Buy-One-Get-One offer, she was thrilled. “I’m just starting to get into companion planting and always looking for information on growing healthy food.” She says she has used Google to search for gardening information but she wants to be smart about her choices and Northern Gardener magazine has been an important resource as well as a source of inspiration.

As she finishes her final cancer treatments, Jordyn is reflecting on how much she’s grown in 2020. “It’s been a long year, but one filled with joy and gratitude for my supportive community of family and friends,” she says. “So much of that joy this year was around gardening.”

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