I must admit that I had absolutely zero interest in gardening for the first 44 years of my life.  For the past two years, my interest has been growing slowly.  This timeline corresponds with my wife’s decision to start her own gardening business about two years ago.  Somehow, she ended up with some of the last remaining seeds for a wonderful tomato that she loved to grow in her garden.  She had been purchasing the Ivan tomato at the Columbia Farmer’s market and had cultivated her own seeds to continue growing them.  The Ivan Tomato Rescue Project is the cornerstone of the Victory Gardeners company.   To learn more about the project and the company check out the website at http://victorygardeners.com/.

As the company got going, I found myself being asked to help with projects like moving truckloads of soil and fertilizer a bit more often.  I had done some helping with the family garden over the years in this regard and didn’t mind the extra efforts on behalf of the company.  I didn’t do much more than that at first as I was working full time in the corporate world and was often busy with caring for our children while Laura was working hard at building the foundation of the company.  I do recall spending one evening last year helping the crew load the truck and trailer full of plants to take to a large market.  I was amazed at how many plants they had grown.  I didn’t know much about the process for getting them ready for market, I learned a lot about that this year.

About four months ago, my stay in the corporate world thankfully ended.  I decided to help Laura with both of our businesses while working a part time job instead.  This put me in the unfamiliar position of helping more with the mad rush to get enough plants ready for market by spring.  For the past four weekends in a row, all four of us (myself, Laura and our two sons) have gone down to the farm our business partner operates.  We have spent 3-4 hours a session planting close to 5,000 starts.  This involves both the original planting and transplanting to larger pots.  I do wish to point out that both Laura and our business partner, Becky, have done much additional work to plant, transplant, water, and fertilize.

I am not one to enjoy the process of getting my hands dirty.  Traditionally, I have shied away from any such activity.  For the first time in my life, I decided to throw caution to the wind and dig in.  To my surprise, I have really enjoyed it.  I have learned a lot and have taken great joy in watching my family work as a team to produce so many plants.

We just turn up some music and each take a station.  My older son, Jordan, often takes the job of cleaning trays and pots and passes them on to me.  As soil boy, I fill the pots with soil and pack them down.  I add a bit more loose soil on the top and pass them on to the next station.  There, Laura plants the seeds or puts the transplant in the bigger pot.  My younger son, Joel, often assists with the transplanting process at another work station.  He carefully removes the plant from the smaller container and passes it to Laura for planting in the larger.  By specializing tasks, we produce an amazing number of plants in each session.  From there, Becky is the watering queen.  She comes out to the greenhouses and cares for the plants daily.

Each time we visit the farm, we see the progress of the plants.  It is very rewarding to see the process of creating these little lives.  It warms my heart to know that these plants will go into family gardens all over our community.  We’ll also be attending some remote markets from time to time to spread the love all over the state.  It makes me smile to think about all of these families sitting down at the table to enjoy meals full of garden fresh vegetables.  After reflection, I came to realize that our family is working to help each and every one of them eat healthy home grown food.

I am proud to say that my name is Todd Narrol and I am a Victory Gardner, well sort of; at least I make a darn good soil boy ;-).  I look forward to meeting many of you at the Columbia Farmer’s Market and at Baker Creek later this spring.  I look forward to sharing more of my experiences with you as I go through my first year as a non-gardening gardener.