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Hagerstown man takes pride in garden

August 04, 2008|By THAISI H. VELASQUEZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Stroll down Maryland Avenue and you might come upon a man sitting in front of what appears to be an ordinary house. Look a little closer, and you will find someone and something extraordinary.

The grassy side yard of the home leads to rows of tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and other home-grown delights.

And the man sitting out front is selling some of the produce grown behind the house.

For more than 59 years, Cyriel Forsythe, or Bud as he is known by many, has tended his Hagerstown garden.

"I like to see the plants grow," he said.

It wasn't until this year that Forsythe, 90, had to settle for supervising the operation and allow his daughters to take over most of the gardening.

"I feel OK, I just can't walk very far anymore," he said. "But, I've got two girls who help me out."

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His daughters Ann and Lorie, said Forsythe still makes all the gardening decisions. He is kindly referred to as the "big boss."

"He sits on the porch and watches everything," said Ann with a smile.

Lorie said the gardening is hard work, but rewarding.

"We don't get paid, but it's all the vegetables you can eat," Ann said.

"Vegetables have been on the table for forever and that's the truth," she said. "I think that's how my father got to be 90."

"This is his life," Ann said. "He finds pride in doing this."

Before he retired, Forsythe worked for Henry A. Bester & Sons Florist and Greenhouses for 60 years.

Forsythe said he started working in the greenhouse during World War I and stopped in 1985 after the business closed. As a foreman, he raised plants, flowers and did some maintenance work.

In addition to overseeing the process, Forsythe said he enjoys talking to the people who stop by to purchase the produce.

Ann said inquiries about the produce begin as early as May.

"Customers have come to the back door or to the window and hollered," she said.

Most of the patrons are from the Tri-State area, but they have had repeat out-of-town customers from as far as Florida.

"I was driving by, saw the colorful umbrella and decided to stop," said Douglas Johnson of Hagerstown as he checked out the produce Friday. "Me and my kids eat lots of fruits and vegetables."

Johnson, a first time customer, purchased some cucumbers and green peppers.

"I like buying fresh vegetables because there's better flavor and not as many chemicals," he said.

Ann said basics like rain water and fertilizer are used in their garden. Pesticides are not.

"I like that it's fresh produce and I knew who grew it," said Barb Malloy, a customer from Funkstown. "You don't have to worry about contaminants."

Malloy said she has been a customer for more than four years.

"I think it's wonderful," she said. "These are the kind of people who know what hard work is."

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