Not many 11-year-olds have their own rototiller, nor want one.
But Langley’s Denver Haak was out in the family’s backyard this spring with his rototiller readying a big patch that kept him busy over the summer as he grew pumpkin, squash, peas, herbs, raspberries, corn, kale, radish and more – about 18 different crops.
There’s kale for dad, and his mom and grandmother pick up unique seeds for him to try.
The Langley Fundamental School student does get some help from his mom, Chrystal, and his grandmother. There’s advice from them and a successful gardening neighbour.
He’s also grown sunflowers and dahlias but devotes most of his effort to food crops.
This is his third summer with a green thumb and by far his most ambitious effort.
“Last year I only had pumpkin and potatoes,” he said.
Pumpkin is his favourite thing to grow and this year he planted white pumpkin.
Last year he grew about 50 mini pumpkins which made their way to his school.
This year’s heat has been a help and hinderance. The pumpkins are ready early and the raspberries were a bumper crop but the corn is stressed.
The garden has been a lesson in the bounty of the earth as well as in the way nature can destroy just as quickly.
“Last time I planted carrots, I got wormed,” Denver said.
Larvae ate his peas and there’s always weeds to tackle. He’s had potatoes hit by pests and vermin show up thinking he’s grown a buffet just for them. He’s had to put up some fencing to keep rabbits out.
Still, he’s out there every day checking on the garden.
Denver continues to be amazed at the cycle of nature.
“Just from tiny seeds, it goes vroom,” he said.
Digging in the dirt may be in his genes. His dad, Gord, comes from farmers and his mom grew up on Robertson Crescent where the family had a quarter-acre kitchen garden.
But the gardening gene didn’t seem to go to his siblings, Rebecca and Rachel. When his friends come over, they don’t jump at the chance to get their hands dirty either.
The gardening has given him an appreciation of what it takes to make food.
And he’s found out what every parent likes to hear – that kids who have a hand in growing food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables – although he gives a lot of it away, and is quick to offer produce to family and friends and the odd community newspaper reporter.