I have always considered myself a nature person. I love the outdoors, flora and fauna alike (not to mention trees, LOL). And I’m concerned to preserve the beauty, vitality, and abundance of this awesome planet for future generations and all living things. But some people have a special connection to our Planet Earth. Beth Walker is one of them. And since Earth Day is this month, it seems like a perfect time to share Beth’s story.
“I have been loving and growing plants since I was 2 years old,” Beth smiles. Her first growing adventure? Why, radishes of course. And there was the time, when she was just a bit older, that she tried to get the “gum” out of the sweet gumballs from the trees in her yard. She managed to pull apart the “gumball” only to find that there was no gum inside. Can’t you just picture this? Her poor little fingers…and so disappointing! But young Beth’s initial disappointment quickly changed to interest, when she learned that the “gum” was really from the bark. “And the leaves are so beautiful,” she says. Beth was already beginning her journey to learn all she could about plants and nature.
Beth’s love of nature was reinforced by both parents. Her father planted fig trees in the yards of all the family’s homes. And there were always back yard gardens. Her mother, a stay-at-home mom as well as a portrait artist, introduced Beth and her sister to dogwoods and the above-mentioned sweet gum trees. She also exposed the girls to the art inherent in all of nature, teaching them to make pottery from the brick-red clay around their Chattanooga, TN home. Beth has been playing in the dirt ever since.
Beth’s love of nature didn’t stop there. In college, she majored in horticulture. Throughout her life, she blended her knowledge and love of nature into all of her many pursuits. She is an accomplished horse woman, actor, journalist, photographer, entrepreneur, and artist in her own right, and to each of her endeavors she brings her passion for nature.
One of her first entrepreneurial ventures was a miniature horse farm for kids ages 3 and up, teaching them how to groom and care for the miniature horses. When she retired from that, she started an herb farm and taught a class on herbs at Richland Junior College. Today, along with other family members, Beth owns and operates a farmers’ market in Lindale, Texas called “Beth’s Little Farm Market”. “The name came before the market,” Beth laughs. When she was starting the miniature horse farm, the play, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” was playing at a local theater. Her son, only 6 years old at the time, noticed the play on words and suggested “Beth’s Little Horse Farm” (in Texas) for their business name. And so it started. The name morphed over to her other businesses, “Beth’s Little Herb Farm” and now, “Beth’s Little Farm Market.”
Beth continues to learn and experiment. “I’m a “Ready, Fire, Aim” kind of person,” she explains. “I’ll try something new, even if I am uncertain of success. I tell myself I know exactly what to do and then somehow I do it.” Just recently, Beth was able to spend two weeks in Japan, observing some of the cooperative farming techniques used in that country. This year, “Beth’s Little Farm Market” added a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, specializing in uncommon crops that usually can’t be found in the grocery stores.
Running a Farmer’s Market and CSA program is challenging to say the least. The hours are long and hard, and you are always at the mercy of the weather. Then, there are those impossible to plan for situations – like the time Beauregard, The Bull got loose and ate most of the orangeglo watermelon crop. But for someone like Beth, who has never stopped playing in the dirt, who indeed seems to gain her strength and vitality from watching things grow, the rewards are amazing and the possibilities endless.
Opening day is just around the corner (April 26), and although the colder weather this year has delayed some crops, there will still be plenty to choose from. “This year we will be selling fresh cut flowers as well as produce,” she exclaims happily. “Lots of flowers, including sunflowers and irises. And there will be berries, apples, herbs and other fresh produce.” Just talking about opening day seems to inspire and motivate Beth even more. I get the sense that growing things, flowers and food, is what fuels Beth’s dreams and feeds her soul. Beth’s excitement is contagious. I can hardly wait for opening day!
Thank you, Beth Walker, for sharing your enthusiasm and the passion that you live every day.