Chris reveals what sparked his
What do you grow for the Farmers Market? How much do you produce?
This year I’m growing cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, melons, watermelons, lettuce and rhubarb. I love growing, and produce as much as I can while also running Whitesburg utilities.
How did you become interested in growing?
I’ve always grown things, ever since helping my father with his vegetable plot as a child. Back then, I used to see it as a chore, but when I left home I realized that I missed growing. I started with peas one summer, and things progressed from there to where I am today.
How do you think the Market has impacted Whitesburg so far?
The Market has helped both to generate community spirit and also to improve food choices and general health. It’s important that everyone — children and adults — know about food and growing, and the Market provides a great means to achieve this.
How have you seen the Market change over the past few years?
The size and diversity of the Market have been the biggest changes. In addition to fruit and vegetables, a much wider range of products is now available, such as art, eggs, and local meats.
What’s this growing season looking like for you? What do you have in store for us?
Things are looking positive, even though all the rain posed a challenge to seedlings early on. Cabbages, peas and broccoli are almost ready. Corn should be at the Market in a few weeks. Watermelons (more than ever this year), melons, and pumpkins will be ready late Fall.
What’s your philosophy on agriculture?
I think that the traditional way of growing produces the best-tasting crop. I grow organically, and focus on maintaining good soil quality using a rototiller and old Ford tractor that I restored.
Do you process any of your crops to add value?
I make sauerkraut (a sour, fermented cabbage) and jellies, and can some foods to preserve them. But I also eat all of my vegetables raw, straight out of the ground, even corn (which is particularly sweet).
[Editor’s note: while conducting this interview, Chris gave me some raw peas and rhubarb to try; both were absolutely delicious.]
What does a normal day look like for you?
In between working on Whitesburg’s utilities, I spend about 2.5 hours tending to my garden on weekdays, and often significantly more on weekends. I like to spend as much time growing as I can.
What do you do with your plot over winter?
Over winter, I get the soil ready for the new year. This is important because I sow seeds straight into ground in the Spring. Winter is also a good chance to experiment with growing different vegetables, including cabbages.
Any tips for someone starting out with growing?
I would advise being careful. Talk to others and take their advice as much as possible. Think carefully about the site where you're growing — could flooding or deer be an issue?
Best thing about growing?
Getting up early and walking round the garden with a cup of coffee, hearing the birdsong.
Favorite thing to cook?
Barbecue, preferably for a large crowd.
Favorite thing about Whitesburg?
The tight-knit community.
Best thing about the Farmers Market?
Meeting interesting people every week.
If you were abandoned on a desert island with three vegetables, which would you choose?
Potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage (to be self-sustaining).
What grows best here?
Cabbages work particularly well.
Soup beans and pork chops.