by Hannah Tangeman
Mart or Martha, as the plant and knitwear vendor at the Lassen Land & Trails Trust market is known, brings a veritable horticultural selection to the weekly market. She prides herself in providing affordable and productive plants for her customers grown at her 4,900 ft. elevation greenhouse and garden in Willow Creek Valley.
Martha lovingly plants 25 varieties of tomatoes, of which, 350 plants have been sold at the Saturday morning market including enticing varieties that produce blue fruit. She feels that plants grown here do better and grow faster than those shipped in to retail or grown in lower elevations.
Martha grows plants that either smell good or you can eat. Herbs crowd in fabric pots waiting to provide culinary fodder or medicinal soothing properties. She searches for plants that fit our short growing season to maximize production. She wants her plants to work and do more than look pretty. The occasional flower flies under the radar and is propagated, as well.
Martha is a wise gardener as demonstrated by the badge of honor she wears, Martha Horan – Master Gardener- which she earned after many hours of study in 2001.
She has given back over 1,250 hours of community service, sharing her gift of plant knowledge with the public. She is living proof one can grow their own food with limited space and resources. Her current garden is rooted in straw bales that provide an accessible gardening space for those who can’t bend down to soil level.
Martha’s bountiful plantings of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs are interlaced with works of pottery art that brighten the agricultural atmosphere they dwell within. Ask her how to garden on a straw bale!
She is committed to organic practices which only seem to make her ‘starts’ thrive more vigorously. She has a small green house “on the only level space she could find on her property” where the plants reside. Starts begin in the attic of her insulated barn space under grow lights in February to make it for the June planting window she aims to hit.
Mart’s Starts fills the season at the market by making recycled market bags that people love to shop the stalls with to carry their larder. She also spends the long winter months making hats and scarves to keep us warm and fashionable which can also be bought from her crafty hands.
Martha finishes what she starts – in ways that enliven the gardens and people of our community. Stop by to say Hi at her booth on the lawn by Richmond Road during the Saturday morning certified farmers market at the Railroad Depot.