LABRADOR WEST, N.L. — We all don’t need to be reminded about the winter we have finally sent packing. There are few among us that are any more eager to see it gone than my neighbour, Dick Narduzzi and his passion for growing almost anything, a green thumb guy for sure.
Dick arrived in Labrador West from Kirkland Lake, Ontario for work at IOC in May of 1967. For those of you who know Dick, his sense of humour is one of his greatest assets.
As we began our conversation, he smiled and said, “When I arrived in Labrador, the Toronto Maple Leafs had just won the Cup. I decided I would stay on in Labrador West until they won it again, and then move back home, I’m still here.”
Dick spent his entire working career in the Concentrator Chemical plant at IOC until his retirement in 2000. From what began as simply a retirement hobby in the beginning, his interest and knowledge in growing things has grown into a full-blown passion for him.
Dick has a dandy greenhouse tucked away in his backyard, purposely built to get the jump on the season and get things up and growing as soon as possible.
Labrador weather, late springs and early falls makes an early start that much more important. When I went for my visit recently it was clear that Dick was eyes and ears into his spring work with a whole bunch of plants of various kinds, all sprouting and growing at different stages of development.
Dick began to explain what the different plants were, what could be expected in their growth, and what the expectations in the yield would be.
Dick’s plants and the many varieties he has, represents many years of experimentation and ultimately the incredible inventory of knowledge that Dick has accumulated over the years of living his passion.
You would be hard pressed to ask him about something he doesn’t have. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, onions, garlic, swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, turnips, beets and micro greens are all on his list and are scattered about in his greenhouse and growing boxes around his house. All of this, with all of the growing knowledge that Dick has achieved over the years, represents an impressive crop each season.
Dick has a number of friends and neighbours that are continuously sharing different plants and expertise in growing their different plants to maturity. This of course adds a shared positive aspect to both the success in growing, but the social side of life as well.
Many folks benefit from Dick’s harvest through his generosity of sharing the bounty. His fresh harvested crop finds its way into the hands of many local folks as well as some beneficiaries who receive a box with Dick’s homemade pickles.
When I asked him about the cost of just going to the store and buying what he grows, he once again had his big smile.
It was not only clear what he said and it didn’t matter.
“It’s cheaper at the store, doesn’t require any of the work, but it also doesn’t matter, the passion for the effort and the taste and freshness makes it all worthwhile.”
Dick and I hope that his cabbage yield is a good enough crop for him, that will allow him and I to share in an effort in making a batch of old homemade “Crock Sauerkraut”. You could buy it at the store for $3 or $4 bucks a bottle. If we actually succeed in this batch, it will be priceless.