Whitney Brandon, Cultivator at TreeGarden in Austin, and Farmer at Blue Butterfly Farm in Dripping Springs

(Photo Credit: Jinni J.)

I’m so excited to share with you my interview with Whitney Brandon. Whitney is the the the Cultivator at TreeGarden in Austin, and Farmer at Blue Butterfly Farm in Dripping Springs.

Thanks so much for doing this interview. Can you tell us what led you to start the TreeGarden?

In 2014, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I left my job as an autism therapist in Austin to help her through surgery and treatment. After her recovery, my husband and I decided that life is too precious to not follow your dreams. We had always wanted to live in the hill country, so we found a magical organic farm in Dripping Springs, and moved there with our two kids. I am passionate about sharing the incredible healing power of Nature with others, so I have focused on growing and wildcrafting medicinal plants and making plant medicine. We also offer free, educational + interactive farm tours at Blue Butterfly Farm so people can connect with Nature and experience the beauty + wonder of all the plants, animals, and people living and working together at the farm. In 2020, I started TreeGarden as a way to share my passion with people in Austin. TreeGarden is Cultivating Collaborative Community through Nature + Education + Art + Wellness + Outreach. I believe we all have a special gift to share with the world, and TreeGarden is a magical place where we can learn together, inspire each other, grow our collaborative community, and nurture our connection to Nature.

What changes have you made this past year during the global pandemic?

Of course, starting a small, one woman owned + operated adventure in the midst of a pandemic has been a HUGE challenge! TreeGarden was supposed to open in March 2020, but covid shut everything down the week before our grand opening. Thankfully, I had a great group of amazing artists, musicians, and workshop leaders that stuck with me until we finally opened in October. We definitely had to make big changes to maintain safety protocols, including masks, social distancing, and limited reservations for events. But we’re blessed to have a big, beautiful outdoor garden space where people can safely enjoy their visit. I am truly inspired by the beautiful, collaborative community that has come together at TreeGarden, despite the difficult times we’re all going through!

Are there any special stories you can share about how the community has embraced your company?

I think my 13-year-old daughter said it best: One night, after a long, hard day, I came home upset and frustrated. The next morning, I found a note from her that said: “I think you should keep working on TreeGarden and keep making it the best it can be, and keep making it a beautiful space for people to share their talents and for people to learn and grow together. Every sapling has to survive through its first frost before growing big and strong!”

What makes TreeGarden stand out from the other event venues in Austin?

I believe that what makes TreeGarden so special is the amazing community that has come together. It takes a forest to cultivate collaborative community, and TreeGarden would not have made it through its first year without the incredible support of all the wonderful artists, musicians, artisans, friends, and family that have shared their talents, energy, enthusiasm, hard work, dedication, and love. In addition, TreeGarden is passionate about giving back to the greater community. We offer student scholarships for TreeGarden workshops, and we donate a portion of all sales to our non-profit partners. I feel truly blessed by the beautiful community that has grown at TreeGarden, and look forward to all the exciting things we will create together in the future!

Please share special features that your venue offers.

Surrounded by the beautiful trees + gardens of our East Austin oasis, you’ll find an exciting variety of creative programs + special happenings at TreeGarden, including creatively cultivated workshops, magical community meetups, live music on the Backyard Stage, inspiring art in the TreeGarden Studio, and community outreach opportunities.

How do you believe TreeGarden has brought a sense of relief to the world during this time of great need?

It makes my heart happy to see everyone’s smiles, as their eyes light up, and they tell me how magical + special their experience at TreeGarden has been! It has been such a joy to share this special space with the community during such a difficult year. So many visitors have expressed how meaningful it has been to be able to connect with community, enjoy art + music, and be nurtured by Nature at TreeGarden.

Can you share with us a practice that you use to slow down and take care of yourself?

Honestly, I’m not the best at self-care. This has definitely been the busiest year of my life, and I have learned to be very intentional about setting aside time for myself. I schedule days to stay at the farm and do the things I love - taking a plant walk around the farm, digging in the dirt, making plant medicine, or sometimes just sitting and watching the animals while I enjoy a cup of farm fresh herbal tea.

Would you share your website address and social media? I’m sure many people would love to learn more about the TreeGarden.

Website: https://treegarden.org

Instagram: @treegarden

Facebook: @treegardenaustin

Whitney, thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule for this great interview!

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