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Leroy’s community garden

The Rev. Leroy Lothert has never been one to sit back and let others take care of business. During his years of ministry with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, he was actively involved in the daily lives of his congregations and missions. Even in retirement, he is very actively engaged with the church he now attends, serving on boards, as an elder and planning the church’s 125th anniversary. In the community of Morton, where Lothert lives, he is active as well, writing for the town’s community newsletter, actively engaged in historical research and helping the community grow and develop. While these things alone would be impressive for any 84 year old, Lothert doesn’t stop there. He has one more consuming passion – gardening. Lothert has impressive flower beds around his house and along his driveway and Highway 19, which runs by the front of his house. More impressive still is his vegetable garden. Lothert has more than 100 tomato plants, rows of potatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumber, peppers, dill, onions and much, much more. “Everything is done organically,” Lothert said. “I don’t use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.” Lothert said he believes that this is best and healthiest way to grow food. “We have so many chemicals in our environment today,” he said. “Chemicals on our lawns, in our food, in what we drink and have around the house. I don’t think we understand the negative impacts this has on our health.” People in the surrounding communities were naturally attracted to Lothert’s massive garden. He started selling a few vegetable from a cart at the end of his driveway. Then the cart moved uptown, where people in the community bought from him on the honor system. “There were some problems with that,” he said. “Somebody was cleaning me out and not leaving any money.” Lothert then took to selling in a lot in Morton and developed a bit of a following. From there his sales drew him to where most of his customers were coming from, which is Redwood Falls. “People were coming down from Redwood to buy,” Lothert said. “As I picked up more people buying vegetables, a fellow in Redwood Falls got ahold of me, Mike Roach, and thought it would be a good idea to start a farmer’s market in Redwood. From there it just took off.” Lothert’s passion for good, real food comes from some of his own heath problems he’s had over the years and from seeing friends suffer with problems as well. “We are supposed to earn our daily bread by the sweat of our brow,” he said. “So many people when the retire become inactive. I’ve developed some back problems over the years but still get out and garden and keep moving. “Being active and eating a healthy diet has kept me off any prescription medications. What we put into our bodies for nourishment is vitally important and directly impacts our overall health. You can’t be active in your church or community if you don’t properly fuel your body.”

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