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This is ‘Uncle Dan’s’ Acre

UncleDan2He came to Wichita from Haviland, KS in 1900. As a devout Quaker, Uncle Dan Binford graduated from Friends University in 1907 and was awarded the Distinguished Alumni award in 1956. He went on to retire from KG&E in 1946 as chief clerk of customers accounting.

Our Maker had given great Uncle Dan an ‘Acre’ of almost a half acre garden plot on the west side of Wichita. The garden writer of the Wichita Eagle & Beacon featured Dan in the newspaper and described him as ‘hale and hearty’ at 90 years old. Dan was quoted as saying “[My] doctor says the garden is what has kept me alive.” My memory of Uncle Dan, just as the garden writer described him – wearing Big Smith overalls, an old felt hat and high top workshoes.

During retirement, Uncle Dan would spend 6 days a week in his garden. It was either my father Harold, or grandfather Orie that always talked about Dan planting his peas around Washington’s birthday – weather permitting I’m sure. One particular year, he planted his peas on February 20. His secret aim was to harvest his peas before retired county agent Don Ingle did. He raised many of his own seedlings in a cold frame headed with a bottom layer of horse manure.

Besides all the common garden vegetables, Dan also raised leeks, pimiento plants, cylindrical beets and horseradish. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about Dan was the horseradish. He sold and donated 100% of the money earned, not profit, but all proceeds to Friends University.

With this week being President’s week, our weather has been cold, snowy, windy, and warm. A typical late winter in Kansas. My Acre needs a bit of work done before I can get my peas planted, but I’m planning on finding a small spot somewhere to scratch the soil and get some in the ground. Peas, radish, lettuce, carrots, spinach are a few of the early spring seeds that can be planted now. Our cole crops and lettuce transplants are doing well in the greenhouse and if you can protect them, can go in the ground soon as well.

Even after being hospitalized 8 times with heart problems, Dan’s doctor told him he could do anything he felt like doing. I’m guessing it was partly due to his hard work and staying active that kept him going for so long.

The ‘Horseradish Man’ lived a long life. Born October 8, 1882, he passed away June 11, 1975. I can picture him today, working heaven’s garden and feeding others.