Family ties keep four generations down on the farm Baughers' produce has a loyal following

July 12, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

For the past 71 years, Russell Baugher has watched the farm land around him shrink. Apple orchards have made way for apartment complexes, and horse-drawn wagons for cars.

But the long-ago era he remembers still exists on his 14-acre farm in Ellicott City, where he and his family grow and sell bushels of fruits and vegetables.

"It's a family affair," said 62-year-old James Baugher, as he and his 92-year-old father hoed weeds among tomatoes and lima beans. "We enjoy it."

The farm supports Mr. Baugher, his son and daughter-in-law. But every summer, four generations of the Baugher family descend on the farm to help plant and harvest bushels of potatoes, cucumbers, onions, beets and other produce. They range in age from 2 to 92.

The children said they don't consider picking tomatoes a chore.

"It's a vacation," said Brad Urton, who is spending five and a half weeks on the farm with his two brothers.

The Baugher family begins work early. They usually pick crops from about 7:30 a.m. to about 10 a.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day. Although the family owns a tractor, most of the crops are harvested by hand because farm machinery costs too much.

"We plant so little it doesn't pay much to buy farm machinery," said daughter-in-law Joan, as she gripped a hoe in her tan hand.

One recent morning, the family planted pumpkins. While Mr. Baugher used a hoe to scoop out pockets of earth, James poured water into them from a coffee tin. Joan trailed after, dropping pumpkin seeds into the holes and covering them with earth.

L The children hoe weeds and pick tomatoes, beets and berries.

When they're not working, they eat snow cones or play with Mickey, a Labrador retriever, and Sparky, a Yorkshire terrier mix.

When the plants ripen, they are taken to Baugher's Fruit and Vegetable stand on Newcut Road.

Over the years, the Baughers have built up a loyal clientele who look forward to fresh tomatoes, corn, peaches and other produce.

Mildred Miller, 79, said she has known the Baughers since she was a little girl.

"I can't wait till they open every year," said Mrs. Miller, who recently bought tomatoes and a watermelon at the stand.

Jean Scarburgh of Ellicott City said she has been visiting the Baugher's stand for the past 30 years.

"I know I'm going to get quality," said Ms. Scarburgh as she picked through pale green cabbage, plump peaches, squash, potatoes, onions, honey and strawberry preserves.

Brad Urton said he can tell when some produce is ripe.

"Tomatoes are ready when they're red, and starting to turn yellow or pink," said the 10-year-old, who lives in San Clemente, Calif.

The children aren't allowed to pick the apples or peaches because it's difficult for them to discriminate between ripe and early fruit, said Joan, 55.

Ripe peaches are "real red in color and soft," said Joan, as she expertly perused a heavily laden peach tree. "But you don't want them real soft or they bruise up in the basket."

Granddaughter Debbie Hobson of Ellicott City said farming has taught her many valuable lessons over the years.

"You learn how to plant, you learn about money," said Debbie, a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "You also learn about nutrition, and you really know what hard work is."

The family opened the stand four years ago after outgrowing its facility on Route 103.

As her customers walk away, Joan reminds them that blackberries and raspberries will be on sale next week, and corn the following week.

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