Darren Doyle, story and photos
If you ask folks in and around the Chalybeate community about big, plentiful gardens and crisp, juicy sweet corn, it probably won't be long until one man's name is mentioned, and that's 82 year old Wavie Skaggs.
Skaggs, like most everyone else in Edmonson County in the 1930's-40's, grew up poor but honest, learned the values of hard work, and passed those values along to his children and grandchildren, a family that has now grown to over 50 members.
At the age of 6, he raised his first crop by himself, a patch of sweet corn. He plowed and worked the ground with a mule, bought the seed corn, and planted and harvested it himself. In a world today where many six year olds have never even had dirty hands, the idea itself is pretty phenomenal.
He has raised some sort of crop or garden ever since that time, a span of over 70 years, even during the two years he served in the Army, which was 1954-55. Smuggling tomato seeds onto the Fort Knox base, finding a small patch of unnoticed ground, and using eating utencils, he raised his own tomatoes on government property.
His feet move a bit slower now, and he wasn't sure if he would feel like planting his garden again this year, but area residents and family members were happy to see Mr. Skaggs on his tractor earlier in the week, preparing the ground for planting. With some help from his family, the garden was planted in addition to another 3/4 of an acre of sweet corn.
In a few months, you can pass by his house on Old Chalybeate Rd and probably see a homemade sign that says "Corn" and "Tomatoes." The tomatoes will be bagged up and will cost somewhere around $2 or $3 per bag. Corn will also be bagged and priced. You'll probably also find a shoe box on a metal table with a note that says "Leave money in box."
Then again, there might not be enough this year to sell. It takes lots of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables to feed a family of 50. Either way, he was glad to see the old John Deere fire up this week, and everyone else was glad to see him driving it.