Jeanette Gieringer grew up with six siblings in Glasgow, Missouri. Her husband, Herman, had five siblings. Their respective parents were raised in the 1940s when everyone took pride in growing large victory gardens. Something about that cultural enthusiasm for gardening “sparked something in us,” Jeanette said. Also, “our parents gardened and canned a lot,” she said.
For the past 10 years, the Gieringers have been selling some of the produce from their garden. They grow vegetables, strawberries, and blackberries on about two acres in Marshall, Missouri. Though they are not certified organic, they use sprays only occasionally, when needed. “We try to grow a variety, and we always try to add something new each year,” she said.
“Our signature vegetable would be our perfect green beans. We strive for good flavor,” Jeanette said. In order to enhance the flavor of their green beans and other vegetables, they “amend the garden with organic matter, she said, making sure we have the proper sweet, mineral-rich soil.”
The couple has passed along their love for gardening to their children, who later learned to appreciate toiling in the soil. “Our children helped in the garden when they were young, but that didn’t last long. When they started having their families, however, that’s when they started asking the gardening questions. Now they all have gardens for their kids. I am so glad they all have taken an interest.”
In recent years, after Herman retired from the post office, and Jeanette retired from nursing, the two empty nesters have spent their days with their plants. Every morning, the couple walks to the garden, each with a cup of coffee in hand. “We figure out what we want to do that day. We don’t have employees, and we are not [a] huge [operation]. We just both love being here.”
Their passion—and that of their fellow growers—has not gone unnoticed. The Columbia community has taken interest in fresh, local produce, she said. “All the nutrients are still in the fresh produce that has been harvested just hours ago.” The farmers market “is not just a fad. If you are going to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, the market is where you will find it. It is just amazing,” she said.
The Columbia Farmers Market is a place to find uncommon “treasures,” she said. The vendors “aren’t big producers. This is where you get the uniqueness; from table to table you see great variety. That makes the market so special in my mind.”
Jeanette is a minimalist cook when it comes to homegrown vegetables. “I really believe that the flavor is in the vegetable. You just add a little heat to whatever fresh vegetable you just bought, and a little salt and pepper if you have to. But any recipe, to me, in the spring and summer, will simply mask the goodness of what just came out of the garden.”