Mark and I met in church around 11 years ago. He could tell you exactly how long ago. I mention this as an introduction to the careful note taker, researcher and planner that Mark is. And to underline the contrast that I am. I am the willy-nilly part of this journey. 

Together, we make a formidable team as we recognize and use each other’s strengths. 

I throw seeds to the wind (well, to the ground) which gets us moving from paralysis… 

Mark – “OMG – “It’s too much. How are we going to do this?” Susan – “Honey, I’ve already planted some seeds.” 

 Mark – “What?? Where? How many? When? Where’s the garden plan? Calendar?” 

 Susan – “In this row, and this row. The whole packet. About two weeks ago. Plan? What plan? I was supposed to make a plan?” 


…To productivity 

Mark – “It’s a jungle out there! How are we supposed to find anything!”“WHERE are we supposed to put all of these tomatoes until you get them to the Farmer’s Market?” 

 Susan – “I know! I couldn’t thin the plants! I figure if they lived they deserved to stay, Don’t worry Honey. I’ll figure out something for the tomatoes. The farmer’s market is only a couple days away”    


This pic is from last year – It really was a jungle garden

  Mark, having researched beforehand, curbs my enthusiasm… Susan – “What do you mean I can’t fit 50 tomato plants in this row??” Mark – “Honey – remember the jungle last year? And how the birds built nests in the thick foliage? And the time you touched a caterpillar because you couldn’t see them? 

 Susan – “Well, I thought the birds would eat the caterpillars! I didn’t know they were territorial Mockingbirds! But I guess I see your point. I’ll only use the planting space from the binder. Especially since you only burned that many holes in the landscape fabric!” 

 …And keeps me out of danger 

 Susan – “And speaking of that, why can’t I use the burning thing? The woods almost catching fire was years ago! AND it was almost!” Mark – “It’s called a butane torch and it makes me feel better to know you won’t have anymore scars.” 

 Susan – grumbles 


 Journey Lesson 1 – Cherish your differences. With the right perspective, they are your team strengths.

Covid brought many unexpected blessings to our Journey. One of the first blessings was the first annual virtual ARCD Summer Field School. Mark found this opportunity while researching articles in Acres Magazine. 

 Mark – “Look Honey ARCD is offering its Summer Field School. We should look into this sometime. It might be something we want to do. Susan – looking up from the Vegetable Growers Bible (which I was NOT researching but I was looking at the pictures ooooo I can grow this, and this, and this…) “Let me see that Honey.” Hmmm. I thought to myself. This looks good! Moving to Ipad and registering for the class. “OK Honey, I signed us up!” 

 Mark – “What?? Honey – I said look into and sometime!”   

 Susan – “Oh Honey. Don’t worry! It’s virtual. We don’t have to pass a test or anything and if we don’t start now we might never start!” Mark – grumbling 

From this wonderful opportunity that Rosie, Lexy and Dana offered we have kept busy growing our practical knowledge and experience foundation. We, (well actually me, Susan, whose strength is involving us in things and dragging Mark into it) went on to take the winter business class (ARCD). 

 A second Covid Blessing was the opportunity to obtain a teaching position in Tennessee and thus leave Florida, where we were living for part of the virtual Summer Field School. This allowed us to attend in person Field Schools, and other ARCD events. I also joined the ARCD Women Farmers group. Mark visited the Hawkins County extension and formed a relationship with Jack Price, UT agent and went on to take Master Beef Certification classes. 

 Susan – “What do you mean you are buying cows?” 

Mark – “Well, after years of research, I have determined that Hereford is a good choice for beef. And I have found a local rancher to buy from. I have also talked to a butcher and put our name on the list for two years from n

Susan – “OMG – two years? That’s taking planning to an extreme! Well I am not feeding them And I’ll be calling them Rib and Eye.” Mark – “Good plan.” 

From Rosie’s emails I found Melody Rose from Greenville UT extension and have attended her Back to Basics gardening class and grew an interest in taking UT Master Gardener classes, which I was able to do this past winter as they were offered state wide, virtually. 

Mark – “When will you be home?” 

Susan – “Well I have Build it Up on Monday and Women Farmer on tuesday, Master Gardener get together on Wednesday, Heritage Beekeeping on Thursday, Friday I will be in the garden, Saturday is the Depot Street Farmer’s Market. Sunday! I’ll be home Sunday… Oh wait…” Mark – “Is it on the calendar?”   

Susan – Grumbling. 

Journey Lesson 2 – Take every opportunity to learn. While it is time consuming, the education and experiences you will have are invaluable in the long run.

 (pictures below)


  This year’s garden promises to be more ruly. (Ok so I HAVE to say that – Mark was looking over my shoulder) 


 On the other hand it definitely looks more ruly (so far.)


3 New tools – The hoe was from BIU (Thank you!) and the seeder was my birthday present! 


 Laying irrigation and practicing organized seeding.

48 plants in the ground and one gardener down.  

 To be continued…