Thursday, March 25, 2010


If you are very, very lucky once in a while someone great enters your life. That was my luck when I met Roy Riddle in the late 1990s when I discovered a community garden in my neighborhood and was bitten by the idea to garden. I had no gardening knowledge, so I turned to a class called “Gardening in West Texas,” taught by a former Army pilot known as Farmer Roy. Roy taught me the basics of gardening and even offered me some additional land to try out my new skills. I had a bumper crop in my community garden and learned to grow broccoli and onions on a small plot at the South Plains Food Bank Farm. A love affair was begun – a love of growing my own vegetables and a love for the wise old gentleman known by all as Farmer Roy.

Fate, or luck, or karma soon intervened and shortly after my novice gardening experience I was offered a job at the food bank, a job which soon turned into the best job I could ever imagine. Before long I was overseeing and administrating the efforts of Farmer Roy and others on the food bank’s 5-acre farm and the 2,500 tree apple orchard and in the youth project called GRUB. I loved my new job, but I was in over my head. Farmer Roy came to the rescue. He taught me what I needed to know in order to do my new job. He didn’t want to sit behind my desk, but he was glad to show me the ropes and led me to a point where I could make it through my work week without a nervous breakdown. He was my mentor, he was my rock, and he was my confidant.

Now he is gone. On Monday we will bury Farmer Roy. Ironically Wednesday was to have been his last day of work. Roy was retiring. Roy was hanging up his shovel. I could never really picture him in a retirement role; maybe he couldn’t see it either. Today I had to call Roy’s friends to tell them the news, one friend remarked that perhaps God needed a good farmer in heaven – he sure got one in Farmer Roy.

Rest in peace, Roy – you will be missed.

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