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Plants and produce for sale

DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / October 2, 1998

For decades Lawrence Robert’s sandwich board sign has been a familiar sight in front of his River Road in Luling. It advertises the vegetables hehas for sale. Robert, 85, supplements his retirement income with theprofit from the two acres of land he farms behind his house.

Robert sells his crop of corn or peas or beans near his sign on the road.

Customers stop, select what they want and leave money in a jar. Robertsays his system, so far, has worked.

“I guess if they want to cheat me,” he says, “it’s between them and the Lord.”Robert says he’s sold his plants and produce to loyal customers for many years.

“I have customers who have moved to Reserve and Baton Rouge that buy their plants from me every year,” he says. “They say they won’t buy themanywhere else.”Robert says the secret of his vegetable plants he seeds himself in his greenhouse is that he transplants the seedlings in a cold frame covered with clear plastic where they receive full sunlight until they’re ready to be put out in the fields. They won’t burn or wither when they’re planted tohis customers’ gardens.

Robert and his wife, Eunice, moved to Luling from Ama 51 years ago. Atthat time, he was a residential carpenter working at whatever hob he could get. But he always farmed.The Roberts’ living room is filled with trophies and mementos of his prize-winning vegetables. Not a year goes by that he doesn’t bring homeribbons for all his entries at the LSU Extension Service exhibit in St.

Charles Parish. He proudly shows off scrapbooks and photograph albumsfilled to the brim with blue ribbons for each year since the contest began.

Robert used to grow a pumpkin patch for school children to visit during the Fall. But he says he’s had to cut back the last several years.”Now I spend a lot of time cooking, washing the dishes and taking care of my wife,” he says.

This year, Tropical Storm Francis took its toll on Robert’s crop. The stormdumped a foot of water on his garden. He lost almost everything.He had also set out his winter cabbage and broccoli plants. Those, too, aregone.

“I have a few tomato plants left and a couple of peas,” he says, “but everything else is gone.”The sign lies on the ground now but Robert says he’s getting ready to plant some more seeds. He’s hoping the weather will be a little kinder in thenext couple of months and he’ll be selling his crop once again this winter.