Out the flat road to Verdant Ground

Posted on September 8, 2011


As you head north on US-31 past the Eastport Market, you come to a road on the left marked Old Dixie Highway.  Before promoters hung that name on it, it was just “the flat road”—a place filled with mysteries and old, old stories.  Whistle Up the Bay country.  Let’s follow it to Verdant Ground.

The garden co-operative was organized two years ago by Sue Swain and Shirley Johns “for the purpose of practicing community scale, sustainable agriculture in the tradition of rural communities.”   In the beginning, it was just a small home garden.  Then two households joined together to share the work and the bounty of a larger garden.  Then the gardens expanded, the membership grew, and the next thing you know there’s a little farmstand out on the flat road every weekend well into the fall.

Bins of produce and flowers, prices on the chalkboard, a scale on the table, a little cash box where you pay for your food and make change.  The stand is run on the honor system, but co-op members are generally around somewhere.  If you like, they’ll show you around the gardens and pick your corn for you right this minute.  They’ll explain how to cook this ‘n’ that, or how to grow it yourself.

The house on the southern parcel was built around the tiny cabin where Grace (Guyer) Hooper grew up, and where she heard the first stories that would become Pioneer Notes.  Up on the northern parcel traces of the foundation of the first Guyer cabin remain.  Huge maples the Guyer boys planted line the flat road.  An ancient apple tree still bears fruit.

This month you can expect sweet corn and tomatoes and Delicata squash, fall spinach, salad turnips, broccoli, carrots, red onions, potatoes, edamame, and four kinds of dried beans: pinto and adzuki and Hidatsa Shield beans and glossy black beans from the same strain the Cherokees carried west on the Trail of Tears.

You can shop at the farmstand whether or not you’re a member, but members have some pretty special privileges. 

  • Grower Members get to dig in the dirt and learn about sustainable gardening and earn a half or full share of vegetables—four hours per week for a half share, eight hours for a full share.
  • Want pickling cukes or an abundance of edamame or a bushel of potatoes to store for the winter?  Consumer Members pay an annual membership fee and participate in the mid-winter planning, assuring that eventually, should the harvest go well, the very things they want to eat will be there for them to buy.

When you eat vegetables grown here, you become part of Antrim County history.  And it, of course, becomes a part of you. Think of that.