A Farmer Through And Through

by Navina-Shyama das

Age of Garden: 15 years

Size of Garden: 60 feet by 35 feet

Food-bearing Crops: Beets, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Carrots, Chives, Corn, Green beans, Lettuce, Okra, Onions, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Apples

If you’ve ever been out to New Vrindavana’s own industrial complex, with its ghee factory, cookie plant and large goshala, you might think you’ve seen this community from one end to the other. But over the hay fields, just a short ATV ride further, and you’ll find the best corn this side of the Ohio River. Why is it so good? Well knock on Ranaka’s door, and he will explain to you that once corn is picked, the sugar starts turning into starch and the sweetness fades rapidly. “I won’t eat the cardboard they sell at Kroger’s, but this stuff is delicious!”

He grew up in the fields of Iowa, so he should know. But unfortunately he’s not the only one. The local raccoon population is mad over his sweet corn, and they come whether the doors are open or not. That’s why you’ll now find two strips of wire at both the top and bottom of the old fence. Only the bitter chill of electricity has been able to counter the temptation of succulent corn and convince the masked mammalian marauders to go elsewhere for their dinner.

Of course, the coons are only the latest excitement in the more than three decades since Ranaka moved to New Vrindavana. He has seen and been through it all, and just stuck with what he knows best: producing food and protecting cows. Whether he’s cooking down 55-pound blocks of butter, shipping off some fresh-baked organic cookies, or stockpiling several hundred tons of hay, he has no doubts that New Vrindavana is the place for him. “I’m just happy to be here. I feel blessed that Krishna has allowed me to be here for so long. There are the regular ups and downs, same as anywhere, but I guess you could say I’m content. This is the life for me!” Not everyone has the fortune to live in the holy dhama, but gardening and growing at least some of their food should be the life for everyone.

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