Gardening provides gratification

It was English poet Alfred Austin who said, “To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” This approach to gardening can be found in the life and work of Franklin County native Jerome Sherrill.

Sherrill has been a pastor in Franklin County for more than 50 years, but he has been a gardener for even longer.

“I grew up on a farm. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t work in a garden,” he said.

Over the years he has learned many tips and tricks that he has incorporated into his gardening routine that yield him quality and abundant produce. Recently, his method cultivated the largest tomato he has ever grown: a 3-pound German Pink tomato.

“Everything came together just right, all of the nutrients and sun and water,” Sherrill said.

He even revealed his successful technique: a combination of fertilized horse manure, pot ash, Epsom salts and lime in which he grows his tomatoes.

One thing that makes Sherrill’s recent crop of tomatoes even more special is its source. Sherrill said his long-time friend Willard Taylor gifted him German Pink tomato seeds in 2000. Sherrill kept those seeds in a freezer until Taylor’s passing and then planted them, effectively preserving Taylor’s legacy in a constant cycle of growth.

“It’s relaxing and gratifying to see week by week your plants grow and produce and then to have an abundance of crop,” Sherrill said.

His love for gardening doesn’t stop with his generation, though. Both of his sons, Mike and Alan, also garden and have successful tomato crops.

“They’re secretly in competition with me,” Sherrill joked.

They use their father’s tried-and-true methods and, according to Sherrill, are both great gardeners.

The Lord is a giver, Sherrill said, and he credits the Lord for providing him the 3-pound tomato and his abundant crops every year. Sherrill said he sees and uses that abundance as a way to give to and serve others. It serves as a form of ministry for the retired pastor.

“It’s a bigger blessing to give rather than to receive,” he said. “It gives a sense of making life better for some that aren’t able.”

Sherrill takes a good portion of his crops and gives to those in the community he knows aren’t able to garden anymore or can’t afford to garden. He gives all of the credit to God for his crops’ successes and his ability to give to those in need.

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