Sargent’s Fresh Veggie Grower…
The following was written by Mike Pascoe. We are grateful to have Mike with his true gardening passion and expertise growing for us. A friend for many years, it is wonderful see Mike doing what he loves. Last season, Mike grew over 40 tomato varieties for our 3rd Annual Tomato Tasting Event. Mike also enabled us to grow and sell handpicked fresh vegetables in both garden centers. Thanks to Mike’s leadership, Sargent’s, for the 2nd year, will have a weekly CSA program. CSA members get first dibs, so be sure to sign-up today! Only 25 shares will be sold. –Nina Sargent
Growing up on a farm in western South Dakota, we always had a large garden. My mom and I sold vegetables to a local farmers market from our acre garden. Tomatoes were always the most important crop to me because they made the most money. From my share of what we sold the first $200 had to go to a savings certificate, then I could spend
|A frequent helper, Mike’s son inspects the tomatoes.|
the rest. I wanted a mini-bike and tomatoes were going to get me that mini-bike. We started about 500 tomato plants from seed every spring. Come harvest time we would pick the best tomatoes and put them into 20 pound peach crates to take them to market. In the 1970’s, early season tomatoes could get as much as 40 cents a pound, dropping to 20 cents a pound later in the season.
We sold the “not perfect” tomatoes at home by the bushel for canning. We also sold sweet corn from home for 75 cents a dozen or 2 dollars a bushel. We just took orders for corn on the phone, operated by word of mouth, and were always sold out.
After I got older (about 16), my love for dirt bikes got me a job at a motorcycle shop and our garden went to just a really large family garden. From there it was college, then a job at IBM in 1982. After I got married, my wife decided she wanted a garden, so we created a garden spot soon followed by a tall fence to keep out the deer. The garden was supposed to be my wife’s project, but it didn’t take long before I took most of it over. Things just have to be done a certain way. I do still let her run the garlic growing part of the garden.
|Mike’s wife, Janice, digs in.|
Pretty soon I was starting tomato plants from seed in the spring and there were plants all over the house. Before I knew it, I was starting over 100 tomato plants and giving the extras away. Apparently, this need to garden had just been laying dormant for years and it was awakened again. It must be a genetic thing. I started thinking that maybe I would like to do something with my gardening interest.
I helped a local restaurant with their garden for a couple years then got asked what I thought about starting a vegetable garden out at Sargent’s. It didn’t take too much thinking to decide this was the kind of gardening deal I was looking for. Flexible hours, almost unlimited manure and compost, tractors, easy access to water, and throw in a couple high school kids to help. It was a very good first year. We pulled a lot of weeds and provided the local deer with some tasty snacks (beets and beans are their favorite night time treats) but ultimately were able to provide a great harvest. I look forward to a bountiful 2017 season!