Green Acres: the place to be in the suburbs
By GEORGE FREEMAN
Editor of GREENE Magazine
If he’s not making loans to help others make their dreams of owning a home come true, Drexel Swanson would rather be home tending his crops and chickens south of Springfield on 1.5 acres.
He has plenty of help from his wife, Esther, who sells real estate when she’s not in nursing school at Ozarks Technical College.
D.J., Ella and Cheyenne (who also works at an area horse stable) are right there as well, tending a flock of chickens, nurturing a garden that includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (all late-season crops). There’s also a small neighborhood pond.
All told, there are 40-plus grape vines, 50 blackberry, blueberry and raspberry bushes, 20 fruit trees , three garden spots, and a green house, all of it irrigated. Plus, 17 chickens. Bees and rabbits are planned for 2013.
"I think it is good to have a variety of new and old ways, keep life interesting and balanced," says Esther, who grew up on 120 acres near Marshfield.
"She is an amazing Mom and always puts the kids first," adds Drexel. "If it invades on the kid’s time, she won’t do it. She also helps with the planting, picking canning and freezing of the vegetables."
"I guess the main thing I want to teach my kids is to do what you enjoy," says Esther. "If you start a career path you do not like, you are never too old to try something new."
The Swansons think basic life skills are as important as ever.
"I hope I teach them well enough for them to teach their kids and them each their kids," says Drexel, who grew up in West Plains. His father died in an auto accident when he was 6. "My Mom, who never remarried raised four kids aged 4, 6, 8, 11 with the help of my Grandfather – with zero public assistance."
As a Boy Scout, he has memories of camping and floating Ozarks streams. Today, he’s a Cub Scout leader for D.J.
"I learned a lot of lessons and skills at age 10 and 11 that I didn’t realize I had learned until I was much older, thanks to my Mother and my Grandfather. The sad part is America will soon become dependent on other countries for their food just like we are dependent on them for oil."
"The U.S. is losing one million acres of prime farm land every year to development and we are already 13 million acres short to produce enough fruits and vegetables to meet America’s demands. Fast forward 20 years and its going to be very scary. The last time I checked they are not making any more land."