DSCN4056  The greenhouse with its winter crops going to seed.
Seeds will be harvested for future greens.reens.

Our friends
Bruce Johnson and Barbara Hagan
have been living the agrarian life
for more than 30 years
just east of Oklahoma City.
Not far from the Cimarron River,
the soil is sandy.
In the Cross Timbers bio-region,
the land is wooded.
Growing their own food—
and plenty to share—
without using chemicals
is challenging.
But for every problem they face,
Bruce and Barbara have a steadfast stance:
find a non-violent solution.

To that sandy soil,
they add compost and other organic material,
year after year after year.

To keep the deer
from harvesting their crops
they have put up netting and other fences
around the perimeter of the gardens.

To keep the soil as moist as possible
and reduce the use of precious water
during Oklahoma’s years of drought,
they mulch—
with prairie grass they harvest by hand;
wood chips from the trees that burned
during two wildfires that spread across their land.

To protect plants from spring winds,
they use recycled parts of a greenhouse
to build a windbreak.

DSCN4048
They dispense with detrimental insects
by picking them off.
And they use only non-toxic methods
of discouraging other invaders.
And now, for the third year,
to protect their plants from a devastating
invasion of grasshoppers,
they grow vegetables under row covers.

DSCN4050
We visited them again recently,
while the grasshoppers were still 1/4-inch babes.
“We have a limited time offer,” said Bruce
with his gentle humor. He fully expects,
with the grasshoppers and the drought,
that this moment is the height of their growing season
this year.
And the garden is lush.

DSCN4051

Notice net fence around the perimeter and all that mulch.

DSCN4053
DSCN4054Kale

We shared a lovely lunch
of pasta and greens—
the Lambs Quarter
that grows wild, naturally,
in this part of Oklahoma
and the grasshoppers seem to ignore.

Being with them,
seeing their gardens;
being aware of their hard work
and dedication to the health of all life;
sharing a meal of gentle conversation
and healthy food,
we come away feeling nourished
and inspired.
They are our heroes.

DSCN4060

DSCN4058The Park: Land they cleared of burned trees following the last fire.
A place of communion and respite from endless labor.