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How Sandlady’s Gourd Farm was Born
Sandlady’s Gourd Farm was brought into existence as a baby from a mother’s womb. It was like a realization born of long experience having the particular natural talent or innate character traits it took to put it all together.
In 1970 Ron and I started a road side front yard Stand vegetable stand selling melons, cantaloupe, pumpkins, mini pumpkins, Indian corn and a variety of vegetables. I also took our crop to the farmer's markets. I would pour through the seed catalogs during the winter to see what new item I would like to add to our products. I was taken with the bushel gourd but decided to grow the canteen and birdhouse gourds. I planted one row that year, 1985. Two rows the next year, 1986, and three rows the next year, 1987. Ron was getting upset with me for taking his ground he wanted for pumpkins. . In 1987 my nephew was selling seeds for his class at school. I bought all he had. There were two packages of ornamental gourds. I fell in love with the colors and shapes. I got a lot of gourds from those two packets of seeds and sold every one of them. I donated a lot of gourds to my church when they had a booth at the Covered Bridge Festival here in Parke County for several years. The fourth year, 1989, I planted about a fourth of an acre. The fifth year 1990, I planted two acres of gourds. Ron was really getting hot under the collar I have planted up to 56 acres of gourds.
One day, I caught my breath when I saw the birdhouse gourd was shaped like a snowman. I started painting snowmen on them. I painted funny faces on the little gourds. I sold all of them. I didn’t know anyone else in the world had ever painted a gourd. Somewhere in all this, I started calling my self the Sandlady.
One day in 1988 a couple on vacation from Mississippi stopped when they noticed the word ‘gourds’ on m y sign. They raised their trunk and showed me their exquisite long handled dipper gourds painted with flowers. They started buying gourds from me for art.
Then later that year a couple stopped by and told me about the Ohio Gourd Society. I thought they meant that someone had started a cult around the gourds. They sent me a copy of one of the American Gourd Society magazines named ‘The Gourd”. At that time, I thought these two societies were the same. I saw the advertising for the World’s largest Gourd Show. A friend and I went to the 1988 show and we loved it. It was breathtaking. I purchased a bunch of seeds for Ron this time. I thought he might enjoy a gourd trellis. Ron still didn’t like me taking his ground to plant my gourds in. He needed an attitude adjustment.
I started my first museum in this old red barn like garage in 1988 after I attended the Ohio Gourd Show. It has now grown to over 500 pieces and I now own part of Jim Story’s collection.
Ron got smitten by the gourds. In 1989, Ron went out to the woods and cut poles and built a 12x30 trellis garden. He got some real nice gourds. I think it was in 1990 that we attended a meeting in Indiana with a group starting the Indiana Gourd Society. In 1991 we went together to the Ohio Gourd Show. Ron really enjoyed the show. He sat around talking to a lot of the guys. That was the year Robert Riveria was at the show.
We had an accident on the way home that left Ron a paraplegic. We finally got home about 5 months later. Ron went on disability and looked very sad for quite some time. All of a sudden I was taller than him. The first year I started farming on my own. I named my farm Sandlady’s Gourd Farm. I could plant as many gourds as I wanted. The couple who were buying most of my gourds gave me an order for $2500. I think this is when Ron told me to plant lots of gourds and he had done went through an attitude adjustment…grin. I bought a John Deere Tractor and had steps put on it so that Ron could pull himself up and get on the tractor to help me. He looked like a little boy with the biggest toy in the world. He was free and never looked sad again.
I decided I would go into farming gourds and leave off working with the fruits and vegetables. I was still selling them at my roadside stand here at our house and on the farmers markets. We went to the Ohio Gourd Show each year. I had been a Friend's pastor since 1979. I left my job as pastor in 1996 and went bigger into farming gourds. I finally started selling gourds at the Indiana Gourd Show in 1995 when they met in Kokomo. Now groups come here to the farm for tours and presentations. I made my website for my business in 1999. Since then, I have shipped gourds all over the world but mostly in the US, Canada, and Hawaii. My customers are now my congregation. They are the sweetest and loveliest people. They have made me some of the best friends.
That same year I held my first Sandlady’s Gourd Art Festival with a had a huge success.. Visitors came from many states and said they really enjoyed it because it was so unique. I set up different gourd art classes, vendors with art and supplies and demonstrations and make it and take it for kids. I continue to hold the Festival the last weekend of August each year (Aug 26-27).
I do presentations at schools, churches, organizations, etc. I have been in several newspapers, magazines, on the Paul Harvey show, PBS shows for children and Across Indiana. I was asked to come to a Women’s International Farming Convention in Washington, DC and was taken around to meet several senators. I have been apart of several seminars for Breaking New Ground of Purdue. They made a video for Caregivers and used Ron and I and our farm in the video.
Parke County Community Foundation sponsored 30 tables at the extension office assigning each table to a person responsible for getting someone to decorate it according to theme. I was asked by the President of the board to decorate her table with gourds. I used gourds to make bowls, plates, spoons, dippers, cups, etc. I set them up with a tall setting in the middle using a gourd the likeness of myself as the centerpiece. I filled the bowls with popcorn, nuts, fruits, etc. The 30 tables were decorated with themes of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Schools, Banks, Art Gallery, etc. It was an awesome sight to behold. I couldn’t believe it when I was given a real nice Crystal vase for most Creative.
I haven’t really made much profit growing gourds other than supporting my second love after the church. The cost of growing and selling gourds was great since Ron was handicapped. Using old equipment that had to be repaired often didn’t help. My next goal is to build a larger building for my gourd collection. Parke County and others want to collaborate with me and I hope to see it come to its birth and enhance the tourism business in Parke County for many years to come. I have served on the Board of directors of the Indiana Gourd Society for four years. PS…I still do weddings and funerals when asked. I am writing an autobiography that I feel the whole world will want to read.
I am seeking a grant for a Sandlady’s Gourd Art and Artifacts Museum. In the future, I want to show my museum for agri-tourism and do presentations and art and set up art classes for others to attend and learn. .
This site was last updated 05/11/15