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My Week in the Plum Pit at MaryJanesFarm
by Phil Jackson, Marysville, Ohio
Phil works for dssresearch.com, a team of market researchers who help employers choose health care plans.

Sunday, July 20

Everything I need is in two small bags: my Tilley hat (the best outdoor hat in the world — says so right on the label), work boots, walking shoes, shorts and belt, three t-shirts (with no corporate logos or slogans), one long-sleeved shirt, a raincoat for working in bad weather, and a notebook and pen.

MaryJane and her husband, Nick, meet me at the gate in Lewiston. They recognize me right away. The e-mail must have tipped her. And MaryJane is wearing her trademark hat and braided ponytail. Just like the pictures I saw on the MaryJanesFarm website. I’m delighted that these two strangers are so glad to see me. I already feel welcome, a good indication of the week to come. Leaving the humidity of Ohio behind, I’m beginning to get acquainted with northern Idaho’s “dry heat.” MaryJane offers me fruit juice and a cup of ice for the ride to the farm while we review my daily agenda for the week, including meals and menus and learning activities — even scheduled rest. I’m relieved, since it’s my first vacation in over five years, even though I’m here to learn how to plant my first garden.

This will be my first vacation in over five years, even though I’m here to learn how to plant my first garden.

My first stop is the “hut” which I am to call home for a week. It appears to be a 12’x12’ one-room slant-roof frame structure with a small wood deck built across the back. There are double windows in front and back. Inside is a cute antique bed with quilted cover and decorative pillows. It’s MaryJane’s grandmother’s bedroom set, refinished to its original buttermilk color. I have a chest, dresser, side table and chair. All the comforts of home, except electricity! Instead, there are candles and a propane lamp and heater.

The most interesting room on the farm, and my real headquarters for the week, is not a building, but a hollowed-out area within a stand of plum trees on a hillside behind the barn — MaryJane’s Plum Pit. The centerpiece of the Plum Pit is MaryJane’s campfire. Plum trees surround you in the room. There is a long harvest table with benches, a sink with counter and an ancient, but beautifully restored, gas stove, all organized into an appealing outdoor room. Two beds are nestled upslope, with mosquito nets as canopies. A hammock, some folding camp chairs, a few tables with flowers and hanging baskets make the Plum Pit an unexpected visual wonder, an outdoor haven. Oh, and the floor is soft soil layered with plum pits fallen from the trees above; hence the name.

Wild Iris Lane

Paradise Ridge

Hut Front Porch

Harvest Table

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