By Rachel McDaniel
Mark and Mary Nalls are opening their garden to the community again this year so local families can have fresh turnips and collards for their Thanksgiving meals – and even hot pepper relish. This year they planted 70-foot rows with 23 rows of turnips and 16 rows of collards at their home at 127 Gwyn Street in Zebulon.
The gates to the garden will open Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 21-22 from daylight to dark as the turnips and collards are harvested for Thanksgiving meals.
“We don’t ask for any money and we had people force donations on us last year so we put all of that – around $100 – in the church offering plate,” said Mark. “This year we want to place a bucket out for donations for Ralph McCrary who has worked for the city for a long time and is fighting cancer. We will also have a notepad for anyone who would like to send him or Brenda a prayer. He’s a really good man who has served this community for a long time.”
Last year the couple gave away 250 giant bundles of turnip greens and 80 bundles of collard greens.
“I love to garden and I love to eat. Gardening is my therapy and the garden is my place to think, a free space to work out problems. The Bible says if you have a gift, share that gift. I’m pretty good at gardening and I have the room for it and I have the desire. Giving away the harvest really does make your heart smile. I get a lot of hugs too.”
Last year the two gave away 130 half pints of pepper relish. This year the two canned 350 pints of pepper relish to share with members of the community. Picking the peppers, preparing them and then canning them took 40 hours for the couple. Mary lets Mark do a lot of the gardening but she helps throughout the year and especially during the early Thanksgiving week harvest.
“I enjoy giving the bundles away and I enjoy seeing people in the garden and getting to talk and fellowship with them. We meet a lot of nice people this way,” she said.