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A green thumb at work

Growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables has been one of my passions and a part of my life since I was a young boy growing up on a family farm in Clay County. I credit my parents for instilling in me a strong work ethic and a healthy appreciation for farm life.  

My father was a full-time farmer who excelled at growing produce and peddling it to residential and small businesses customers on a house-to-house basis. He also grew corn and cotton crops to feed a large flock of laying hens and livestock and provide the necessities for a family of nine.  

My siblings and I stayed busy hoeing, plowing and harvesting the row crops. It would take us one day to pick the vegetables he would carry to market the following day. A special treat was to accompany him on one of his trips to town, stand on the passenger side running board of his pickup truck and announce the arrival of homegrown watermelons, cantaloupes and tomatoes to prospective customers.  

I maintained my zeal for gardening after I left the farm, even though I chose journalism as a career and worked in that field for more than 50 years before retiring in 2016. Some of the gardens I worked were small but fruitful.  

My first one in Hartselle (1962) is especially memorable. 

A younger brother and I planted it in the backyard of a rental house on Barkley Street. We broke the ground with a mattock and shovel and cultivated the vegetable plants with a hoe, rake and push plow. Wow, what work!  

However, the veggies that landed on our dinner table were inexpensive and very tasty.   

Fast forward to 2017: I decided to expand the size of my garden on Bethel Road with the idea of selling the veggies not needed by my family at the Hartselle Farmers Market.  Clearing additional space and increasing my investment in seed, fertilizer and other supplies paid dividends. Despite difficulties associated with unfavorable weather, we have since harvested bumper crops of potatoes, squash, green beans, okra and tomatoes. 

 Displaying and selling the produce at the Farmers Market was a pleasurable experience. Already, we are looking forward to a new growing season and a return to the market in 2020.