JONESVILLE - Imagine a long hot summer of watering and cultivating a garden that produced 800 dozen ears of corn, bushels of tomatoes and a host of other vegetables.
Then imagine giving it all away.
That is what a group of men in Jonesville have been doing for several years.
“If we sold it, there wouldn't be any pleasure in it,” said Bill Craig. “It would be a job then.”
The men distribute the harvest to widows and elderly people in the community.
Craig and brothers James and Bill Littlejohn have been involved in the garden project for several years. When James' son, Pat, retired from Union County Schools, Pat began working with them. Bill's wife, Wilhemenia, also is involved, along with Eddie Fowler of Union (Fowler's daughter, Melissa, is married to Pat and Debbie Littlejohn's son, Patrick), and Dennis Ledbetter of Gaffney. On a peak day this summer when the majority of the corn was pulled, Shane Silvey and Daniel Williams helped out.
The group farms a smaller garden near Pat's house and a three-acre garden at another location where they can draw water from a creek.
Bill Craig is 80. Bill Littlejohn is 83. James Littlejohn is 87. Ledbetter is 66. Fowler is 62 and Pat Littlejohn is 58.
The garden produced 250 watermelons, 12 five-gallon buckets of peas, 20 five-gallon buckets of greens and more tomatoes than you can count.
“There must have been 300 tomato plants,” Fowler said. “It seemed that way.”
“Those rows were long,” Pat Littlejohn said.
Late squash and okra continue to bear in the garden, along with cabbage.
Ledbetter said the butternut squash produced in the garden was delicious.
“You can cut it in half; it bakes like a sweet potato and tastes like a sweet potato,” he said.
And there are plenty of jokes to go around about the garden - such as the watermelon catastrophe.
“We had a truckload,” Craig said. “I pulled up to the road and stopped. I looked back and saw we had left the tailgate down.”
“And I mean it didn't leave one,” James Littlejohn said, finishing the story. “Every one of them came out.”
Throughout the months of May and June when temperatures frequently broke 100, water had to be pumped from the creek to irrigate the garden. Pat went on a cruise one week and the others haven't let him live that down.
“They keep telling me how bad it was,” Pat said.
One day, Pat Littlejohn and Bill Littlejohn had been working on one end of the garden and decided to get in Bill's truck and drive back up to the section where Craig and James Littlejohn were working.
As Bill began backing the truck up, he and Pat heard multiple “pops.”
He was running over peppers, bursting them.
“I got out and I just fell on the ground. I knew when those two walked up and saw that, Uncle Bill and I were going to catch it,” Pat said with a laugh.