Atlanta Garden Walk
Susan Hoblit, The Wertheim Garden and PrairiErth Farm

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[July 01, 2016]   Susan Hoblit - When garden tourists were finished at Yoko’s home, they traveled then to a rural part of Lincoln for the last three stops. Susan Hoblit was next on the list.

Located on the sloping hills of rural Logan County, Susan’s home is set amidst the Hoblit Seed Company and a selection of buildings that represent the company as well as the family heritage. Susan greeted folks at the edge of the driveway and encouraged them to walk all around her back lawn. Before they moved on, she also told them about the beautiful view she enjoys each day looking southward. She noted that on a good day she can not only see Lincoln, but she can also see the gentle slope of the Elkhart Hill.

Walking around the edge of the home the exterior wall of the garage features a couple of different lawn ornaments that pay tribute to the family business. Moving on, there are two large patio areas, both with excellent views of the backyard. Close to the home is a garden spot featuring a lovely fountain surrounded by tidy shrubs.

The balance of Susan’s garden is a shade garden growing underneath the collection of trees that outline the edges of the lawn. Utilizing hostas and other shade loving ground cover and flowering plants, each section is lusher than the one before.

On the far back side an area is accented with a bright blue bench sitting on a bed of stone. Gazing balls and a large blue planter help give the area a homey feel along with the sunflower pillow and hat that have found their resting place on the bench.

Close by, a gated trellis leads the way down a short winding path that features a rather unique and special “ornament.” There, propped against a tree is the grave headstone for "Melecent" Hoblit, who died in 1855. The problem with the stone is that the name was misspelled when engraved.

Above the headstone for the tour was a paragraph about the stone and what happened with it.

“Melicent Hoblit way my great, great, great, grandmother. Unfortunately, her name was engraved on this tombstone as Melecent – not Melicent. The tombstone was discarded and a new one made with the correct spelling. The discarded tombstone was turned engraved side down and was used as part of a sidewalk until 2002 when it was discovered and offered to me. The discarded headstone now has a home in my garden.”

The Wertheim Gardens

Amy Wertheim is a certified herb gardener with a special plan for a large garden on her property. This week she noted that stage one of the plan is completed and contains a wide variety of herbs. Amy’s garden is located next door to the RGW Candy Company owned and managed by her and her father.

The garden consists of all herbs with the exception of one small patch of beets. She has other gardens on the property that include vegetables, and there is a large flower garden surrounding the back of the Wertheim home.

Amy explained how she prepared the beds for her herbs. By digging up the soil, filling in the space with gravel, then returning the soil. She adds landscape timbers to allow for building up the beds; then she plants her garden.

She does quite well in her efforts, noting that two years running she has won the very top honors at the Illinois State Fair for her lavender.

Scattered among the growing beds are many ornamental items including a wood pergola in the center of the garden.

Amy said her herbs fall in one or more of three categories, decorative, edible, or medicinal. She said one common error is that folks believe that the medicinal benefits of a herb can be obtained by simply eating them. She said many medicinal herbs require some type of preparation including cooking so that the medical powers will be released from the plant.

The garden around the back patio has the look of a field of wildflowers, with several rustic lawn ornaments for accents. The area also features a fountain facing the house that her big black dog enjoys getting in on sweltering summer days like Saturday.

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PrairiErth Farm

The last stop of the day was PrairiErth Farm in rural Atlanta. Owned by the Bishop family, the farm is all organic from field crops to livestock to vegetable crops. The family sells organic meat and vegetables and are among the vendors now offering products at the ALMH Vendors Market each Saturday in Lincoln.

The farm was tagged as a “self-guided tour” in the program, but Dave Bishop and teenage son Graham were outside and more than happy to point out a couple of things.

Dave led the way to a new project for son Graham, gourds. Graham explained that he is growing birdhouse gourds this year, and he is also growing Loofa gourds. These are the gourds that end up being Loofa Sponges, but it was also explained that the loofa can be crushed and added to skin cleansers as an exfoliate.

Graham also raises organic pork. He pointed out his pig pens were he has several animals right now. He said he starts with feeder pigs, then grows them organically using grains that have also been raised organically at PrairiErth. Graham then sells the pork as “half-hogs.”

Graham also talked a little about the chickens on the farm, saying, like everything else, they get only organic products with no chemicals or drugs. He said their ration includes ground corn and beans along with oats and a special organic mineral mix that they purchase.

PrairiErth Farm has multiple locations where they grow their crops and food products. At the home place they have several greenhouses that they utilize so as to provide a much longer growing season for crops such as tomatoes.

At the greenhouse, Dave Bishop was happy to talk about growing tomatoes and spotted a couple nearing the ready mark while he was there. Bishop said that organic fruits and vegetables are not perfect, and consumers really don’t expect them to be. He noted that more and more buyers are getting the message that a “perfect” product was probably grown with the help of many inorganic compounds.

Dave also noted that across the country, the interest in organic farming is growing. He said that there are farmers who are interested in transitioning their farmland to organic, but they don’t understand the process involved. He noted that universities such as Illinois State are trying to address this with information and education, and he is doing what he can to help.

To learn more about PrairiErth Farm, visit them on Saturdays at the Logan County Fairground or browse their website at PrairiErth_Farm/Home.html.

[Nila Smith]


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