When you retire, you’ve got to find ways of keeping yourself physically and mentally active. This is my way. I’m not a golfer. As we’re reinventing ourselves as farmers, we’re finding this to be a great activity. There’s a lot of community connections—we’re forming our own community here around our farm stand.
DILYS: We have people leaving notes for us and saying that we’ve changed the quality of their life in Truro, things like that. I think it was meant to be: We have this land, and we’re not couch potatoes. It keeps us busy from March through November. Then we start thinking about buying seeds again February.
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PETER: We have six or seven types of lettuce that we grow. I have my famous asparagus. I grow nine varieties of garlic—most people say, “I didn’t even know there were nine varieties of garlic.” . . . We have a lot of tomatoes, probably about seven or eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We have an appropriate number of squash. Then a lot of leafy stuff—kale, arugula. I had three varieties of potatoes—the fingerlings are wonderful. My principle crop right now is Eastham turnips. I got some seeds from Bob Wells (an Eastham-based farmer), and I grew them last year very successfully. I have twice as many this year.
As Tommy Kane, my friend in town, says, “You don’t make a dime farming. But you sure eat well.” He’s right about that.
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PETER: A few years ago in the springtime, we were looking through our seed catalogs. My wife’s name is Dilys and her nickname is Dill. In the seed catalog, there was something called Dill’s Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. And I said, “Oh man, we’ve got to order that.” We didn’t know it, but these pumpkin seeds come from a very famous farm up in Nova Scotia, and this guy had been growing huge, 1,600-pound pumpkins for years . . . We had no objective to grow a giant pumpkin. We didn’t even know we had them until we peeled back the leaves and we saw two of them. They were a smaller variety: One weighed a little over 200 pounds, the other was 175 pounds. I got a hold of the people in Nova Scotia and I bought seeds for a different category, which would be a 1,600-pounder. I planted it in a different area of the garden, but I hadn’t paid enough attention to the soil in this new area that I had turned over. So it was just wickedly acidic. Nothing really grew there. It was a huge flop. But why not try again next year?
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PETER: The people that come to Truro have to realize that you’re 40 miles out to sea, in the middle of the ocean without much land. It’s kind of rough and wooly from a weather perspective. We’re very much influenced by the bodies of water next to us. We’re having terrific erosion up here. On the bay side, there are million-and-a-half-dollar houses sitting on the precipice and they’re being undermined below. It’s that old lesson: Farmers never built their houses on the edge of the water.