HSGP members Jerry and Judy Walp have patterned their retirement after that of a Roman emperor. If this conjures up images of a toga-wearing couple lounging around sipping wine you’re thinking of the wrong emperor. The Walp’s model was Diocletian, the 51st Emperor of the Roman Empire who famously retired to tend his vegetable garden.
Jerry and Judy’s Diocletian Garden is not only a source of pride and enjoyment but is an example of Humanists doing good in the community through their contributions to food banks in Maricopa and Casa Grande.
Jerry spent his working career as an industrial engineer and Judy was an elementary teacher working in special education. But Jerry had fond memories of the Ohio farm where he grew up so when the couple retired, they moved from Colorado to a parcel of land near the town of Maricopa and began to cultivate it. Master Gardener classes helped them learn how much different the growing seasons are in Arizona from those in Colorado and Ohio. As Judy says, “Here we plant while everything in Ohio is covered in snow.”
Experimentation taught them what grows best on their plot of land and when to plant it. Then Jerry and Judy started selling their vegetables at a local farmers’ market, preparing their produce for sale, transporting it to the market, competing with others who sold what they had not grown themselves. After a few years the Walps decided it was more satisfying to skip the hassles of retailing and give their bounty to those who might not otherwise have access to fresh, healthy food like the beets, carrots, broccoli, chard, cabbage, tomatoes, melons, squash, peppers, onions and garlic that they grow at various times of the year. This year they expect to donate about 13,000 pounds of fresh produce to the food banks.
Judy says “We do it because we like to garden. It is very satisfying to watch the little seedlings sprout and the plants produce. It is a healthy lifestyle. We get sunshine, exercise and good things to eat.”
And they get the satisfaction of sharing some of that healthy lifestyle with others in their community.