Josh Bacon is perhaps the most handsome man in the valley. His good looks and ready smile make him particularly pleasant to be around. His landscaping business “Joshua Tree Gardens” has put him in regular contact with people from both the foreign and local communities and this is one of the things we like about him here at The Mag. Josh is married to the lovely Virginia, and together they live in a beautiful countryside home in the Monterchi area with their two kids, two dwarf goats, a horse, a Shetland Pony, chickens, 10,000 Guinnea Pigs their cat and a couple of excellent dogs.
By Marta Cerù
How did you end up living here in Italy?
Josh: «I came here to visit a friend in Sansepolcro whom I’d met in Australia. It was planned to be a two weeks holiday, but I stayed with his family for two years. Next week they are hosting a dinner for me to celebrate my 10 year anniversary in Italy».
How did you two meet?
Virginia: «We met late one night in an infamous bar in Sansepolcro.»
As a landscape gardener and tree surgeon do you feel a professional obligation to keep a nice garden at home?
Josh: «I don’t think a plumber should have a dripping tap! No it’s not a professional obligation but I’m passionate about my work, and so I want to have a beautiful garden at home. It’s also a great platform to experiment with.»
Did you work with landscapes and trees back in Australia?
Josh: «My degree was in Botany and I’ve studied and worked in both Australia and Switzerland where the structural integrity and aesthetic value of the tree are both respected and appreciated.»
Australians are generally “outdoor types”. Are you Josh?
Josh: «Yes, that’s what drew me to this area (shame there’s no beach!) We love being outdoors and both of us grew up in the country close to the sea. We encourage our kids to be outside as much as possible and planned our garden specifically with them in mind. The woods around our house are fantastic for walking and riding and we go out with the ponies and dogs as often as we can. We are lucky that Virginia can dedicate her time to our kids.»
Virginia, being a mom in the countryside is a huge job, do you work outside of the Home as well?
Virginia: «Apart from mucking out and feeding, I spend most of my day being a Mum and driving to and from school, music lessons and sport. Having said that, for the past year I have been doing voluntary English teaching at our son’s school together with another English mother. It’s a new experience for me as I’ve never taught before and I find it really rewarding.»
Is this a good place to raise children?
Josh: «Yes! Definitely while they are still so young. We’ll update you in a few years time.»
Do you like the school system where your kids are? How do you rate it?
Josh: «Sometimes it’s hard to adapt culturally to the school system and its ideas, but the basic education here is excellent, and in my experience, a year or two ahead of schools ‘at home’. We both went to schools that offered great extra curricular activities, so sometimes we find it a bit limited here.»
Will you consider supporting SOS, an initiative to hold fundraising concerts for supplementing school budgets?
Virgina: «Absolutely. A country has no future without a strong, rounded education system. It’s a shame the government doesn’t see fit to give more funding to the schools and less to themselves.»
Josh: «When I was at elementary school we often had fetes, sporting events, parent activity days etc to raise funds for the library, sporting facilities and school camps. They always proved to be a great success.»
What do you find most challenging about living in a different culture?
Virginia: «We constantly forget that you can’t do anything on a Monday morning, eat out on a Tuesday evening, shop locally on Wednesday afternoon, and that you have to ring to confirm but not to cancel.»
Has the long recession hurt your landscaping business much?
Josh: «Luckily the sun still shines and the rain still pours, so the grass still grows. There are still large projects out there but they are being worked at a slower pace.»
Are you optimistic about the future?
Josh: «If you want to have a good future you have to be optimistic and we want a good future for our children, whether that be here or…»