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A tradition of gardening runs in the family

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The farm's land has long since become lots for homes so I never really knew about the farm until one day I called the mother of a classmate because it was reunion time. Mrs. McGuire had lived in Swissvale all her life. She told me stories about my grandmother and how when she was a little girl, her mother would give her a paper bag and a dime to go to Horrock’s farm and fill up the bag with vegetables.

Imagine a bag of vegetables now for just a dime!

Fun for kids

My family lived with my dad’s mother. One year my grandmother fertilized her garden since no one else had done that. It turned out that my mother had done the same as well, as had my dad, since no one ever told anyone else of their fertilization. By the end of summer, the tomato plants looked more like Jack’s beanstalk. Because I was so little, they sent me into find the zucchini and tomatoes. It was like a jungle paradise for me.

At home in our garden, my grandmother grew tomatoes, beans, peppers, and carrots. When I would play outside, I used to sneak a carrot out of the ground, wash it off with water from the hose, and bite into a carrot that was so sweet, it was almost like candy instead of a vegetable. So addicting was that flavor, that to this day I eat only raw carrots for their crispness and sweetness.

Then, of course, there was the cherry tree with my swing on it. Every year my mother and grandmother fought the birds for the sour cherries so they could make pies. As I enjoyed the swing, the birds let their fondness for the berries drop on me. Amazingly, the tree is still alive today!

My dad ([see photo at left] passed away in 1966, but one of my earliest and fondest memories is going to the farmers' market with him. I can still remember being in awe of fresh blocks of Swiss cheese with their distinctive aroma and buying a bushel of sweet Country Gentleman, a silver shoe peg corn, and to my mind and mouth, one of the finest white corns ever grown.

At the end of summer the tomatoes from the garden became sauce, the carrots because something my grandmother called carrot sauce although she wouldn’t give up the recipe. There were pickled beets, jams, and jellies too.

Now I grow tomatoes, beans, onions, zucchini, peppers and beets. I buy corn at a farmer’s market. I make my tomato sauce, freeze the beans, make a lot of zucchini casserole or bread, salsa with the peppers, and onions for everything.

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