The ‘Collard Lady’s’ thumb turns green again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Collard Lady didn’t let anything stop her from producing a good crop again this year in spite of a few adversities.

Eddie Mae Ervin, 76, has consistently picked the giant leaves during the second week in November which to me always signaled that Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner since this is one green vegetable that is in high demand for many holiday dinners.

For the past few weeks I have been able to look across the street to see Ervin’s garden filled with giant, leafy collards. However, I knew that the absence of the giant leaves on Monday was an indication that huge tubs in her kitchen were now filled with leaves that she and her son, Benjamin Ervin Jr., had picked to put in separate bags for distribution.

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Ervin, a native of South Carolina, moved to Blythewood Lane about 30 years ago and I moved on the street about 32 years ago. Neighbors gave her the name Collard Lady because she has grown the crop year after year. This year she also grew, sweet and white potatoes, onions, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, butter beans, string beans and green and red peppers.

Ervin said that she can’t remember the last time that she has gone to the grocery store to buy vegetables because she has always had a good supply of them.

&uot;In previous years my good friend and companion, Richard Artis, helped me but this year he is in the nursing home because he got so he couldn’t stand up or walk. I miss him so much that sometimes I just go to myself and cry. The whole time that I was out in the garden working I just couldn’t help but remember what a big help he had been to me in previous years,&uot; she said..

Ervin is also scheduled to have minor surgery this week as an outpatient but said that the doctor told her to go ahead and do whatever she wanted to but not to overdo it. But when I looked at what she has accomplished, I wondered how she didn’t overdo it.

Ervin began planting her vegetables last August and many mornings before anyone even thought of getting out of bed to begin their day, I would see her already working in her garden.

&uot;When I was a child I loved being outdoors and still love being outdoors today because watching a lot of television is one of the last things that I desire to do. After I plant my crop, I just stand back and let the Lord do the rest and He has given me a good one each year,&uot; she said.

Ervin said that this year she planted 30 rows of collard greens and has planted more when she had help.

She said after she plants the seeds and spreads the fertilizer, she uses only a grubbing hoe to cultivate her crop. When the vegetables begin to grow, she said that she puts dust on them to keep the worms away. That is one reason people love to have her collards and the other reason is that they are so large.

&uot;I go to the window every morning, lift my hands up to the sky and just thank God for how He gave me the strength to plant the garden by myself and for how He blessed me with such a good crop again this year.

&uot;Maybe the reasons for this are that I always put Him first and share my profit with my church by giving 10 percent of all the profit that I make if I sell them. All that I don’t sell, I give free to the senior citizens in the neighborhood.

Ervin is also a member of Macedonia AME Church on Pine Street and stresses how she really loves the pastor, the Rev. Charles L. Harvin Sr. and the church.

&uot;I do believe that when you give something to someone it will always come back to you and if God gives me the strength to do this again next year, the Collard Lady’s crop will be in big supply on tables at Thanksgiving one more time,&uot; she said.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald

reporter. She writes a column every Wednesday.