BEACH LAKE, PA — Bob Hoffman’s Victory Garden is 6,050 square feet in his front yard. It’s “a ministry garden in my front lawn,” he said at our first talk in the …
BEACH LAKE, PA — Bob Hoffman’s Victory Garden is 6,050 square feet in his front yard. It’s “a ministry garden in my front lawn,” he said at our first talk in the summer.
The garden was started three years ago, pre-COVID-19. Initially, it was a 450-square-foot garden. Eighty percent of what he grows goes to his family and a church member. Monetary donations are used to continue growing the garden.
In order to understand the Victory Garden you have to go back 79 years to Hoffman’s roots.
Begun in 1942, during World War II, victory gardens lifted spirits, grew food that helped families thrive and benefited the war effort. Hoffman remembers helping his grandparents in such a garden. At only two years old, he’d pick up the pears that fell from the tree, pulled out weeds, picked fruits. He had not met his father yet.
Fast forward: Hoffman married. He was a phys-ed teacher. He then became a full-time craftsman. He and his wife traveled the eastern part of the country, going to craft shows. Eventually they settled down and opened a wholesale shop in Honesdale, which became Party Perfection. His wife died. The store closed and he retired. “Those 20 years were horrendous. I learned, though, the worst can turn into something positive,” he said.
Thirty years ago, Hoffman was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He was on the highest level of insulin, five times a day, he said. The “doctors said, ‘There’s nothing more we can do.’” His feet began turning colors.
“If this is what God wants, I’m ready to join my wife,” he thought at the time.
And then he had an epiphany. “Maybe that’s not what God wants. Maybe he wants me to use the abilities He gave me to remain and to share His word with others.”
His life, he said, turned around quickly. Six years ago he stopped eating the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and became a vegetarian. He remains on five injections a day but with 85 percent less insulin, he said.
First thing in the morning he fills his juicer with apple, carrots, kale and vanilla soy milk. He’s never felt better, he said. “I am living a dream life.”
He will not claim that his garden is totally organic but he gardens as organically as possible. He uses natural materials, “God-created, not man-made.” The best manure he can find, he said, is the all-natural hay fed to racehorses. “The racehorses get blood testing all the time, therefore you know what they are eating,” he said.
Last year, he took several trips, with 14 five-gallon buckets in his car. Large composting piles of discarded vegetables and scraps now lie beyond the fence, meant to become “future great plants for great health,” Hoffman said.
He does not turn his composting heaps. “Go into a forest where you find the best soil. Nobody is turning that.” He incorporates blood meal, dried into powder. Natural mulch makes pathways to separate planting beds, keep down weeds and make it easier to walk through the garden.
When I checked back with Hoffman in December, I found him ahead of the curve. Most people wait until January to plan and order their gardening needs. His garden is cleared of debris. He has ordered the potatoes and onion seeds for the coming spring. He has everything ready to plant seeds indoors.
“I’m just the maintenance man. God provides and I maintain,” he said.
The Victory Garden stand proudly hails visitors at the front of the driveway. Education and encouragement waits outside in the early morning, or inside a cool garage in the heat of the day. You will know when he is there. The garage door is open and his car is in the driveway.
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