Bobby Ludwig: It’s just not replaceable

My family came in here two hundred years ago, and I grew up here. My daddy used to take me up here on the hill and point out which pieces of property that my ancestors had gotten their hands on and who had done what to fix it. I was only about six or seven years old, but the message was not lost on me.

My first experience working in a garden was when I was either three or four. I remember my dad gave me a seed out of the watermelons from Fourth of July. I planted it, and got my first watermelon right before the frost. That same year my dad gave me a little stick and he started me in a row with onion sets. I would turn that stick, sow, turn the stick, sow, turn the stick, sow. That was right here.

Now, they could widen the highway, take that garden and say, “Here, you can put the garden some place else.” These people come along here and say, “Oh, you can go and buy another piece of land.”

But I’d say to them, “Okay, how about I take your girlfriend and I’ll spend the night with her? You go get another girlfriend! I mean, after all, it’s all the same, isn’t it?”

I’d say, “Excuse me— did you know my family’s been on this piece of land for two hundred years? My mom died at that dining room table. Is somebody going to replace that?” The land isn’t homogeneous. It’s just not. It’s not like one piece replaces another piece, it just doesn’t. There’s nothing, no ties, no history, no nothing. It’s just not replaceable.

Bobby Ludwig, Hardy County conservation easement donor, 2009