When it comes to organic gardening, Bob Dickey of Brandon is the real thing, a master gardener who got his start with natural gardening some 40 years ago.
"Organic gardening wasn't in vogue at all when I got started," he said. "Nobody thought it could be done. I was doing it, but nobody cared."
He cared deeply, though, and he traces that revelation to his reading of Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, published in 1962 and credited with igniting the environmental movement. Carson less than a year later was 56 and dying of breast cancer when she testified before a Senate subcommittee on pesticides.
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"I read 'Silent Spring' and I couldn't eat any other way, other than what I raised with no toxic pesticides and no chemical fertilizers," Dickey said.
He added that he doesn't know why organic gardening took so long to become in vogue but he has a reasoned thought.
"The chemical industry was so well-advertised that they made it appear you were strange if that's what you wanted to do," he said. "Over the years people got smarter and now organic gardening is the thing to do."
Locally, Dickey is the master gardener for the Tampa Heights Community Garden, which recently celebrated its first anniversary.
Dickey said he has been asked to teach students at the University of Tampa, which he did so twice last week.
"That's how far this thing has become," Dickey said about the growing acceptance of organic gardening and food. "You read Silent Spring and that's the only way you'll eat, too."
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