February 6, 2012 — Catawba River District Voices
Dan & Linda Whitener of Whitener’s Greenhouse
“That’s Farming” is a phrase that gets used a lot around our small 8-acre farm. It’s a phrase used in good times and bad, in frustrating situations and “pat yourself on the back” moments. This nutshell of words defines what living off the land is all about … in good times and in bad a farmer has to keep on plowing along.
When our family started on this quest for self-sufficiency and for a chance to be in touch with the land, we were blessed to have a family of mentors nearby. About 15 years ago we were living in a regular neighborhood in Huntersville, complete with a neighborhood association and paved roads. We could walk out our front door and see a dozen houses lining our street. But one neighbor’s house was situated quite a bit out of our gaze. They live on property adjoining our Plum Creek Neighborhood on Highway 115. Those landowners are Dan and Linda Whitener, who operate Whitener’s Greenhouse with their daughter, Ann.
When the farming bug bit us, the Whiteners took us under their wing and showed us what growing food was all about. Years and years of knowledge were ours to dig for as Dan would walk around the fields and talk to us about the soil, when to plant, how to combat bugs or deal with the weather. Linda and Ann’s expertise on the varieties of plants and how to care for them was invaluable in those early years of our gardening.
We’ve had many curveballs thrown our way in our adventure of farming, but also a ton of blessings and satisfaction. We are so grateful to Dan, Linda and Ann, our first mentors in farming … not only for their advice in gardening, but also for their example of living out this way of life. And most importantly, we are thankful for their friendship.But the most important and sustaining nugget of wisdom came from watching them deal with the ups and downs of the family business. When something didn’t go according to plan such as a tiller breaking down or a crop failing, Dan wouldn’t get mad or upset. He’d just smile at us and say, “That’s farming.” When the first tomato plants set out in the spring succumbed to a late frost, Linda would shade her head and say, “That’s farming.” It’s a way of life, a give and take of nature.
About Jeffie and Chris Hardin – Jeffie Hardin and her husband, Chris, left suburban life for an 8-acre farm in 2001. At Rivendell Farms, the Hardins seek to grow and raise half of their family’s food and help others grow their food, too.