A Piece of History Grows in the Butterfly Garden

In the spring of 2020 asparagus shoots appeared in the plot tended by Beth Lynch in the Butterfly Garden. It is not entirely unusual for asparagus to appear on Eastern Neck Island, even though it has been a National Wildlife Refuge for sixty years. In the first half of the 20th century truck farming was a major part of the island’s economy and the Eastern Shore in general. In fact, the term “truck farming” originated in the area. Many residents of Rock Hall remember the smell of boiling tomatoes that emanated from the cannery in town, in the days when Kent County was a major producer of crops for canning such as tomatoes, sweet corn and English peas. In 1929 Kent County grow 712 acres of asparagus, a third of the whole Maryland crop. On Eastern Neck island patches of Keyport loamy fine sand on upland ridges were particularly suitable for this crop. The late Robert Strong, Sr. remembered, “I walked down from Boxes Point to a 10-acre field and cut asparagus before I went to school. They used to ask me if I like school. I said “Yeah! I love school.” Got you out of work!”



Before the Refuge on Eastern Neck Island, compiled and edited by D. and E. Blanpied, 2003

Soil Survey of Kent County Maryland, Winant H.B and Bewley J.P., 1930

Asparagus in the butterfly garden

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