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
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. Im 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, Im beginning to get acquainted with northern Idahos
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. Im relieved, since its my first
vacation in over five years, even though Im here to learn
how to plant my first garden.
This will be my first vacation in over five
years, even though Im here to learn how to plant my
My first stop is the hut which I am to call home for
a week. It appears to be a 12x12 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. Its MaryJanes
grandmothers 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 MaryJanes
Plum Pit. The centerpiece of the Plum Pit is MaryJanes 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.