Monday, June 30, 2008

The Farm Will Go On

Pepper Plant in the GardenIn his final week, dad worked long days to get the remaining tomato, pepper, eggplant, and okra plants into the ground, but he had quite a backlog due to the heavy spring rains. He was so particular about how each plant was to be planted and cared for, that he preferred to do everything himself.

He was always happy to let people into the gardens to show them around. He might even let family members or close friends pick vegetables once in a while. But he did all of the planting and watering himself, systematically and methodically, at his own pace, in his own way...

Tami in the Tomato PatchFor me, it took about 20 minutes of picking produce to re-confirm that I'm not cut out for farming. I got back to the house with my small bucket of produce, sweating and flushed from the heat, covered in Incredible Hulk green from the tomato plants.

Fortunately, my brother (Kevin) has stepped in to take over farming operations to ensure we get at least one more season of Hale Farms produce. He has been working long days in the gardens, stopping only long enough to cut and bale hay with our uncle Rick. He has even managed to recruit a number of family and friends to help, giving some of them their first exposure to farming.

Kami and Kevin - The two who know the most about dad's gardenThe Saturday after the funeral, my sister (Kim), sister-in-law (Emily) and I took the last truckload of unplanted tomato and pepper plants to the Farmer's Market to find good homes for them. Throughout the day, people stopped by to express their condolences and to adopt plants.

We had at least 20 varieties of tomato plants and 10 varieties of peppers to give away, including pink, gold, and striped tomatoes and blue bell peppers. Only a few of the plants were marked, so there will definitely be some surprises in backyard gardens this summer.

About 20 minutes before the market closed, we still had almost 200 plants and were trying to figure out how to keep them alive until they could be planted. Just in time, a friend of dad's who was teaching a gardening program for 5th graders stopped by and took all of the remaining plants to be planted at the school.

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