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All in the family





Raising a garden had been such a big part of her family for so long, Margie Hammerschmidt couldn't bear the thought of the tradition coming to an end.

So the Hays woman took up her dad's offer to use his garden acreage on his country home west of Hays to plant a garden this year.

Keeping it all in the family reached beyond those two generations last week when Hammerschmidt asked three of her grandchildren to help prepare the vegetables for a local farmers market, then to help sell them at the market.

Six-year-old Eli Hammerschmidt and his 4-year-old sister Kallie were on a week's visit from their home in Wellsville and were more than happy to help their grandmother and first cousin, 12-year-old Lynsie Hansen from Hays.

After Lynsie washed the cucumbers and zucchini from the garden, Eli dried the vegetables, and Kallie arranged them for display.

The youngsters made signs that not only listed the price of each vegetable but also gave credit to the man who started it all, listing the sellers' names as the great-grandchildren of Al Denning.

Hammerschmidt said her dad "just didn't feel up to planting a garden" this spring and asked his children who lived in the area if they would be interested in using his garden space if he helped with the seeds.

Hammerschmidt said she remembers from the time she was just a toddler her dad planting a large garden.

"I'm sure it was a way of feeding all of us," said Hammerschmidt, the third of seven children of Al and Aletha Denning. "Then it turned into something he just enjoyed so much."

Hammerschmidt said she was a little nervous at first last week when she decided to set up shop for the first time at the farmers market, something her father and mother had done for many years.

"There were a lot of people who know dad who stopped by our table," Hammerschmidt said. "So (their produce) was selling well. The grandkids were really excited; they got to keep the money we made."

The experience also brought a smile to the face of the great-grandfather of gardening.

"Mom and Dad stopped by (the farmers market)," Hammerschmidt said. "And he was so pleased."

"It was nice to see the three different generations working together," said Beth Hansen, Lynsie's mom.

It also might have given a boost to Denning, who will turn 85 next month.

"Dad wanted a little break in the spring," Hammerschmidt said. "But he put in a fall crop this last week."