Bernie's Garden - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Bernie's Garden

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For many, gardening is a way to put fresh food on the table - and maybe preserve some of the harvest for the coming winter.

But for the man you're about to meet, gardening means much more than just that.

Photojournalist Gaylen Ness spent lots of time with Bernie Irwin at his large garden just outside of Minot, documenting his efforts.

Jim Olson has the story.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "The saying is you can take boy out of country, not country out of boy."

And this country boy just can't resist the urge to work the land.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "I've always raised a garden…"

And it's a lot of work.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "You work four, six hours a day. Some times you work all day. It's a lot of work."

At age 92, Bernie Irwin knows well the secret to a successful garden.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "The secret is be willing to work!"

And Bernie is willing to work. With wife Laurel right alongside,

(Laurel Irwin, Minot) "Did you get all the weeds from the garden?"

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "Yeah, I think so - I got a lot, that's for sure."

Bernie spent the spring and summer tending this patch of land

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "I have 3 rows of potatoes, and, let's see, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10 rows of corn."

This growing season brought some major challenges - high water washed out a big chunk of his garden. But no flood could drown out Bernie's enthusiasm.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "Once you get started it's hard to quit"

Although, Bernie admits that his days at the business end of a hoe may be coming to an end.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "But I don't know how long I'll keep it up. I guess at 92 you don't do too much of this kind of work."

So what drives Bernie to keep up this back breaking work? It's not that he loves to eat, or even sell, fresh potatoes and onions and corn from his own garden.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "If you like potatoes and onions, this is the deal."

No, Bernie's drive comes from a much deeper desire - the desire to share.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "You can't bless people by selling it to them but you can by sharing - I've found that's the way to go."

So even at age 92, Bernie spends hour after hour - month after month - year after year - planting, tending, and worrying

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "We could use a shot of rain"

About his crop. Because it seems a lot of people wonder if he'll be delivering the goods again this year.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "Everywhere I went this spring people would say you're gonna plant a garden this year right? And you're going to remember us when you do? So I told Laurel I guess we'll plant a garden and do the best we can."

So now it's September - harvest time for the corn - and what are Bernie and Laurel finding as they patiently collect their crop?

(Laurel Irwin, Minot) "We have more this year than we've ever had!"

A bumper crop

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "...better go empty this."

of corn - and once the produce is transferred to the pickup for the trip into town - of sharing with others.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "Please help yourself."

Yes, this country boy - who still knows to take off his hat inside - has delivered on another year of feeding others.

(Satisfied Customer) "For one thing, it's's sweet!

And maybe he's a little more modern than we think…

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "It's bodacious." (Woman) "Bodacious?" (Bernie) "That's the type of corn, it's called bodacious."

Bodacious bounty from a man who can't get enough of sharing his bounty with everyone.

(Bernie Irwin, Minot) "Bible says better to give - I've found that to be true…I've found that to be true."

Bernie shares his harvest with people at Brentmoor and several local churches.

He also sent a few cobs of corn home with photojournalist Gaylen Ness, who reports they were, in fact, bodacious!

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