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Sammy Shows Us How

February 13, 2013

It has been almost mystical how fresh vegetables show up in the winter, grown locally in high tunnels or low hoop houses. A few of the Wild Ramp farmers are managing their experiences and learning which techniques bring desired results.

It may seem that it takes a lot of land, acres and acres,  to feed a family and have excess to sell to a market like the Wild Ramp. In truth Sammy Torres has a small plot behind his house in Huntington and also grows in the community garden at Spring Hill Cemetary.

knocking down c

I first met Sammy when helping build the Wild Ramp and later learned he had also offered his professional skill at making the floors shine. A few weeks later I noticed “Sammy Steamer” signs on produce for sale in the market.  But it wasn’t until the broccoli started showing up this winter that I told him I HAD to visit.


We had just had a few days where temperatures had dipped well below freezing and it had snowed here in Huntington. I figured I was going to see a lot of wilted plants, but Sammy taught me how it can be done.

The first thing that became apparent were all the seedlings he had growing in his windows, capturing the sun.  He’s getting ready for planting at his community garden.DSC_0002

What impressed me more, however, was his backyard. Sloping upward, as so many do here in West Virginia (if they are not sloping downward), he built two terraces to have some level space. The first level is about 3 feet wide, making it easy to work while standing-no leaning over needed!

DSC_0010It took him about 3 minutes to unclip the plastic and then I got to see what was inside.



You may not appreciate the taste of broccoli, but fresh off the plant standing in the snow in January, it is great!

Above the hoop house is the row where tomatoes and peppers grew last year. Sammy has some ideas of modifying this space and planting a bit differently this coming growing season. I can’t wait to see how he is going to be feeding


The Wild Ramp will be offering a class with Sammy on how to plan your backyard garden….stay tuned for details!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2013 5:14 pm

    This is awesome, and a wonderful example of how food production can be achieved with a low level investment of resources and space. We’re covering the shift to food production in World Prehistory at this moment and I have to remind everyone that there needn’t have been a push to force us into food production from our supposedly happy hunter gatherer lifestyle, because at the household level the benefits outweigh the costs. Plus, you still get a surplus of product that can be bartered or as in Sammy’s case sold at market. I’m stealing some ideas as I look at the set up here. All you’re missing Sammy is a pig!

    • February 13, 2013 7:03 pm

      Oh sure, I can imagine his neighbor’s reaction if Sammy has a pig! LOL

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