Phil Christenson inherited his rototiller from his dad. Before passing away, his dad used the machine for gardening, which is what Phil now does.
"The rototiller's been running great for 34 or 35 years so we keep it running," he says.
But, when it comes to growing food, it's about more than your tools. Phil says a successful gardener has to have desire, "It takes someone who has determination and is willing to get their hands and jeans dirty."
Phil started planting in a 30-by-70-foot garden three years ago. He donates most of what he grows to his local food pantry, just a short 15-minute drive from his garden.
Theresia Larimore is the executive director of the Hobart Food Pantry. At this point in the year, she sees lots of non-perishable donations. Theresia says summer is one her favorite times. That's when they get fresh produce from people like Phil.
"When the fresh things are brought in not only does it give us nutrition in the best of way, but it also brings in conversation and something that feels special," she says.
Fresh donations like Phil's encouraged Theresia to expand the facilities.
They're taking a big risk with the weather. It's out of their control. It's out of my control. You learn what you've heard over the years can hit you one summer.
"We needed something when someone like Phil was ready to bring us something and it was, say Friday, but we're not giving out until Tuesday; I needed a place that could stay in the best kept shape." The new cooler at the pantry took Theresia about a year of grant writing to purchase.
The Hobart Food Pantry feeds approximately 140 people every single week, and that's on the low side. So, the pantry can't rely on people like Phil because gardeners never know how much harvest will come up.
And we all know how Indiana weather can be.
Record rainfall hit the state during June and July. Some parts of the Indiana saw up to eight inches above their average precipitation.
As a result, Phil's garden was completely washed out. If you've ever tried to grow your own food, you can probably relate. "They're taking a big risk with the weather. It's out of their control. It's out of my control. You learn what you've heard over the years can hit you one summer," he says.
Phil lost pretty much everything this season, which meant he wasn't able to donate. "It hurt me a little bit and I just had to put it behind me and say, ‘Well, move on, wait until next year."'
Till Next Year
Back at Phil's garden, it's a beautiful day. The garden is just dirt and there's nothing to dig up with the shovel. But, one bad year isn't going to stop Phil from growing food.
"I get a lot of enjoyment just working in the garden, spending time behind the tiller. I can come over here and just forget everything for two or three hours at a time. I know there's a need there and I'm not providing a whole lot, but what I provide helps somebody."
Oh, and that tiller? He'll drag it out of the shed again in the spring when it's time to plant his seeds.