Master gardeners

Raj Nadella (foreground) plants onions and shallots Saturday at the Crook Farm garden, while her fellow Penn State Extension master gardeners, Linda Rankin and Bob Harris (in background) water and plant other vegetables. This is the first year the master gardeners’ group has sponsored the garden at the historic farm.

BRADFORD, Pa. — The weather was perfect Saturday when Penn State Extension master gardeners Linda Rankin, Bob Harris and Raj Nadella got their hands in the dirt and began planting a variety of heirloom plants in the Crook Farm garden.

Rankin, who is the project leader for the garden, said this is the first year that the master gardeners’ program has planned and cared for the Crook Farm garden. The garden previously had been cared for by volunteers with the Bradford Landmark Society, which owns the historic farm on Seaward Avenue.

Rankin said the Penn State Extension Master Gardener volunteer program is sponsoring the garden and will place a sign at the site as well.

Rankin, who became a master gardener last year, said the garden is coordinated by fellow master gardener Gloria Wilson. Rankin noted that she spent the winter planning the garden, and grew most of the vegetables from seed. She even made a second plan for the garden’s arrangement at the suggestion of Bradford Landmark officials. Much of the garden was tilled by Rankin in an old fashioned manner, as she used a broadfork to take care of the chore.

The vegetables planted include tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, squash, cauliflower, leeks, onions and shallots, among others. The gardeners also plan to plant a Three Sisters Garden, or a Native American garden, that will contain corn, beans, a variety of squash and pumpkins.

Harris, who is well-known to the community through various gardening classes and programs he offers to the public, also commented on the Crook Farm project.

“Oh my, yes,” Harris exclaimed when asked if he enjoyed the endeavor. “I’ll help with this through the whole season.”

Nadella, who recently became a master gardener, said she, too, enjoyed working on the project.

The group said they would welcome the help of other master gardeners at the plot on Saturday mornings, as there is ongoing work that will have to be done.

Rankin said the intent for the organization is to plan and maintain the vegetable garden at Crook Farm in the future.

As for what will become of the produce harvested at the end of the season, Rankin said it is going to a worthwhile cause - the Friendship Table in Bradford.

Molly Lindahl, a volunteer with Bradford Landmark, said the garden had been cared for by volunteers with the historic organization in the past.

“For many years, Linda Brocious and her husband, Dick, and Margi Knox (and her husband) took care” of the garden, Lindahl recalled.

Sally Costik, curator of Bradford Landmark, said she personally thinks it's "wonderful that the master gardeners have taken on the task of 'farming' at the Crook farm.

"Good for them!," Costik added. "And the way it was explained to me, they will try to plant only those things that would have been in the Crook family's garden."

For more information on the master gardener program, which provides extensive training for all those who are interested, visit the Penn State Extension office online.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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