The following article is reprinted from the Sunday Herald, September 7, 2003.
A MASTER GARDENER from South Nictaux shares the secrets of growing prize-winning vegetables without ever seeing the product of his labour.
Arthur Shepperdson of South Nictaux picked up 10 ribbons at the Annapolis Valley Exhibition for his garden vegetables. His success followed the Best in Show prize for green beans at the Wilmot Garden Club flower and vegetable show. What makes these wins notable is that Mr. Shepperdson is blind.
“I used to garden before I went blind,” he told Susanne Wagner of the Monitor-Examiner. Mr. Shepperdson said when he lost all his sight 11 years ago he looked at how he could continue his hobby.
“I tried gardening on the flat ground, but that didn’t work. I broke everything.” So he decided to build boxes and garden in raised beds. His entire back yard is filled with garden boxes that are four feet by 20 feet, about 60 in all. And Mr. Shepperdson knows what’s in each one.
“When I plant my garden I record everything on cassette – potatoes in box three, this end a certain variety. I can remember most of them but it helps in planning for the next season when you should plant different crops.”
He has markers attached to each planter to help him get around the yard.
“When you’re blind you have to have something to follow. It’s all, ‘how am I going to make it easy for myself to get from point A to point B?’ ”
Mr. Shepperdson said he devised his system because he there was no information on gardening for the blind.
“I didn’t have someone to tell me how.”
He said the way he gardens would also work for people confined to a wheelchair.
Kim Kierans is the director of the University of King’s College school of journalism in Halifax.