Generous Harvest
February 1994

“Generous Harvest,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 57

Generous Harvest

“It’s such a thrill to see the miracle of growth. It makes us feel as though we are partners with God,” says Ferl Blackburn, who along with his wife, Veradeane, maintains their home with its large vegetable and flower gardens. The Blackburns, members of the St. George Seventh Ward, St. George Utah East Stake, give away most of the vegetables and flowers they grow to friends. When the Blackburns retired to St. George, Utah, they transformed neglected fields near their home into a veritable Garden of Eden, so lovely that travelers passing by would stop to gaze. Their vegetable garden and orchard were beautiful to behold. Because their hillside orchard could be seen from the highway, they terraced the orchard and garden and planted hundreds of brilliant tulips and a wide variety of flowers and blossoming shrubs. They planted flowers galore along streets and sidewalks.

In their gardens nothing is wasted. Everything not eaten goes back into the soil. Cornstalks tower above Ferl’s six-feet height, and climbing plants such as beans, cucumbers, and their special climbing zucchini cover the fourteen-foot trellises and cascade back down, almost to the ground. Some years, they have grown pumpkins and squash weighing 350 to 400 pounds each.

Several years ago, the Blackburns began donating food from their bounteous harvest to the St. George Temple cafeteria; and then they offered produce to other friends and neighbors. “Why don’t you sell them?” they are often asked. “Oh, that would spoil the fun,” Veradeane replies. One of their greatest satisfactions was helping a family with eight children who subsisted almost entirely on food from the Blackburn garden during an extended period when the father was unable to work.

The Blackburns love to beautify their surroundings. A weed-grown area bordering the LDS chapel became a blaze of golden marigold; tall, showy hollyhocks graced a formerly bare strip on their neighbor’s side of the fence; and multicolored flowers grace every bare spot on their own lot and along the sidewalks. Recently Ferl gathered a gallon of hollyhock seeds from his gardens. “Hollyhocks are hardy and don’t require much water, so I’m going to plant them all over this town next spring,” he says. And so their lifetime of generous service to others goes on for this devoted couple, who have shared fifty-five years of marriage and beautifying the earth.—Vira Blake, St. George, Utah