I first caught sight of Rick and Terri Gilchrists’ well-designed garden along Route 56 in Hannawa Falls two years ago, nearly causing a pile up on the highway when I impulsively hit the brakes to pull into their driveway. Hearing the trailing blare of car horns, Terri stepped out of her house and graciously offered a stranger a tour of the garden. The Gilchrists are owners of 3 Trees Farm, selling most of their produce through North Country Grown cooperative. Hannawa Falls is a bedroom community of Potsdam, the closest thing we have to a suburb in the North Country, so it’s something of a surprise to find residents here earning income from their yard.
When I dropped in on the Gilchrists two years ago, the garden was contained in a fenced area directly behind the house. Faced with poor soil in their backyard, the Gilchrists constructed raised beds on a gravel base and placed a utility shed in the middle of the garden. Filled with topsoil and compost, the beds are very productive, especially since Terri sows seed every couple of weeks during the growing season.
Right after my visit two years ago, the Gilchrists created a second garden space on a strip of their yard running parallel to Route 56. This garden is surrounded by an attractive wooden fence, enclosing long rows of well-tended vegetables. With a second garden came more defined division of labor. Terri maintains the raised beds, Rick the long planted rows, and they keep up a fun “his and hers” rivalry about who is doing a better job. When I pulled into the Gilchrists’ yard last week — again on an impulse — Terri was packing up beans to sell. She really believes in the local food movement, and plans what she grows very carefully to complement what other producers are selling. Unperturbed by my unannounced visits, Rick and Terri assure me they are always happy to give garden tours.