Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 59: Growing Food & Growing A Friendship

"I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world." ~Thomas A. Edison

Today was a very busy day and was mostly a very good day. I started out early this morning going to the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market to get a few things, but mainly to get some lettuce seedlings to take for a talk I gave to the Riviera Garden Club.

I told them what I know about starting an edible spring garden. It was great to be able to share my love of gardening with other gardeners. I especially love to "convert" flower growers into edible growers, or, at least, encourage them to incorporate them in with their ornamentals. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many already growing some food.

The meeting was held at the Torrance Airport Meeting Room and for those who know the area and/or know me, you know that is where Tom Ishibashi's farm was/is. And, I have gradually seen things start to change since he passed away last year and know it is inevitable that soon, everything will be gone.

This reality hit me hard last night when I got a call from his niece telling me they were going to be having a huge garage sale in the next couple of weeks to get rid of all the equipment, etc. because they need to be out of there by April. And, she asked if I was sincere in my offer to help them publicize it by blogging about it, tweeting, it etc. I told her I was sincere, and that I wanted to come and help too with the sale. As we finished chatting, she told me she'd let me know exactly when that would happen.

On my way to the meeting I was a bit preoccupied and yes, nervous before my talk. I am always at least a little nervous before any garden talk even though I have done this so many times. I am a researcher and writer, I can talk up other people and write about them, but, I really don't like to be the one "on."

I got through my presentation fine and after it was over and as I was packing up and looking out at the runway, I teared up as it hit me that my friend Tom is really gone and that his farm is really gone.

When I got home and checked my email, I had one from Tom's niece Karen telling me "we will be having our going out of business sale on March 10."  Needless to say, reading that really made me sad and I did more than just tear up. I miss my friend Tom, he was grumpy and funny, he was tough and kind, and he was one of the most generous men I have ever known. He would give me as much produce as I could carry, and he would always invite me back to chat with him and would always offer me food, whatever he had or was eating.

He was also so supportive of my work. He bought a copy of my book for every member of his family, his very large, extended family. And, he made me sign each and every one of them (nearly 100 copies). So, I made him sign the last page in my book, because it had his photo on it. Here it is in color (getting him to pose was no easy task):

Tom T. Ishibashi, February 8, 2008
I don't just miss my friend, but I also miss my local farmer. I am sad not only for me, but sad for my community. We have lost a 60+ year family farm. So many people looked forward to it reopening each spring, starting first with his flowers, then his strawberries and later in the season, his sweet corn, the sweetest corn I have ever eaten.

October 2008, me and my farm hero, Tom T. Ishibashi, he let me do a book signing at the farm.  I made him sign books alongside me since he is the "star" of my book.

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