Sunday, August 14, 2011's a social thing!

I am feeling a little bummed out by the veg business lately. In fact I was looking at the job boards on the internet. "Sandwich artist?" Who comes up with this stuff?
Probably not for me. 
This is a post I wrote a while back. But I thought it a good way of reminding myself how rich this experience has been.
When most people think of farming and growing food, they think of an occupation that is reasonably — well, lonely.

But I have to tell you, for me it has opened up all kinds of new and interesting relationships; folks I never would have encountered if not for what I do.
I'd like to tell you about a few of them.
I have Irena, "the pepper gal," I call her in private. This elderly woman (a bit rough around the edges) and I touch base many times a year now. She knows where I live. She is an avid gardener, committed to growing organically and to growing open-pollinated crops she can save seed from. Her search is always for certain peppers, though. They continue to remain elusive... . I scour my catalogues for her, but never find exactly the name she is looking for. But in the meantime she likes to try what I have. She finds my prices a bit steep and I understand that. She is from a different generation and I am happy to give her what she wants. She always offers to pay — usually far less than my price —  but when you own the business, you can give what you want to who you want.
When she told me last year she was 93, I could have fallen over. She drives, gardens and has a fantastic enthusiasm for what she does. Bless her — the plants are always on me!
Let me tell you now about the couple who have become such wonderful friends and the way it all began.  Years ago, probably 12 or 13, I put a small, but pricey ad in the Welland Tribune classifieds. It read "organic vegetables for sale" and listed my available produce and phone number.

And Shirley phoned.
With a clear American accent and an enthusiasm that bowled me over, she came into my world.
Shirley and her husband Phil had been buying their organic produce from Toronto and were delighted there was someone in their township (Wainfleet) growing organic food.
Twelve years later we are still together, friends and a shoulder to lean on at times. When my mom passed away two years ago, it was Shirley who led me through a really difficult harvest day, talking to me, encouraging me and just being there. And they say food inspires conversation? It has really done so much more. It has led me to folks like Shirley and Phil, who are on the same page in so many ways.

There are so many more folks. Emily and her husband Wolfgang Sterr formerly of The Wildflower have become great friends. That is Emily's smiling face in the picture above. A ray of sunshine.

Hundreds of folks have inspired me over the years. Young(er) folks volunteering their time here to help out and learn. People stopping by with seed from their favourite plants or the actual plants. Phone calls from older people looking for plants their parents grew... now some of my favourites.

The somewhat eccentric, but wonderful George from Winnipeg, who sends me seed from his favourites. The great chefs I now deal with. Can I share a secret? I was initially hesitant to deal with restaurants because I heard chefs can have — shall we say — an issue with temper management. Not true. A great bunch.
The creator extraordinaire, Tom Wagner, whom I met several years ago at the Seed Savers Convention in Iowa. I'm delighted to follow your progress and support your efforts.
It has been a great ride and far, far richer than I ever imagined. Thanks all.

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