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Ted Hall
May 10, 2009 | Gardens | Ted Hall

The Root of It All

Breakfast in Bed 1969Today is the day to celebrate the root of it all: Mom.

Anybody who has been on a tour of the ranch has heard me start the narrative with: "My mother was an organic gardening pioneer in the 1940s."

Today I am back in Pennsylvania spending the day with the source, my mother. Although our small family farm is long gone (we left in 1961), Mom is still going strong (at least in terms of her ability to tell me what to do).

Today we reminisced about her early start with gardening.  Her father and mother (my grandparents) operated a small grocery store in Beaver.  It was a neighborhood store with a confectionary and sandwich shop.  Mom isn't sure about its proper name because everyone called it "the little store."  But, we think it was officially known as DeHass Grocery.  

The family provided fresh produce for the store from its own gardens just a few blocks away.  As children, my mother and her two brothers and sister worked in that garden.  There was always a compost pile and my grandfather mixed a variety of potions, including soapy water and tobacco juice, for pest control.

Sadly, my grandfather lost the store to bankruptcy in 1936 when he could no longer pay his own bills after providing credit to so many of his customers.  But, the traditions and skills of growing for the market were already in place.

Five Acres and IndpendenceWhen my mother and father were married, they soon acquired a small rural property and, as they say, the rest is history.  The bible, according to Mom, was "Five Acres and Independence," a book first published in 1935 which became popular with young couples following World War II.  One of my most prized possessions is my mother and father's copy of the book, which Mom presented to me a few years ago.

Mom reminded me this afternoon that I turned the compost pile for the first time when I was five years old.

Thank you, Mom.


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