letting grow.

Ev Merritt and Stu Steele of Cottonwood Acres Greenhouse in Black Hawk have had a passion for growing plants and vegetables for more than three decades.

“When I am in a down mood, I put my hands in the soil and the mood vanishes,” Merritt said.

What started as a gardening class through Pennington County Extension turned into a business cultivating cucumbers, spinach, rhubarb, house plants and potted perennials.

The two have been running greenhouses for 30 years, and they are known throughout the Black Hills for their gardening knowledge.

With the hard, physical labor required to maintain greenhouses, Merritt, 87, and Steele, 89, keep the business afloat with little outside help.

Working all day can take a toll on them.

“It’s a bummer because we always think we can do more easily than we do,” Merritt said. “We do more now at 87 than we did 30 years ago, and it’s not so easy. Everything comes with more difficulty.”

Whether it’s watering the plants, trimming rhubarb or loading the car on a Friday evening for the next morning’s farmers market, Merritt and Steele work at their own pace. They admit they don’t finish everything they need to by the end of the day, but like any married duo, once in a while they disagree on gardening.

“Sometimes it’s very trying because we have different ideas and go different ways,” Steele said. “But we try to work them out.”

These images are © 2010 Rapid City Journal and may not be reprinted or used without permission.

No comments: