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Ed and Irene Robertson’s house on the north side of La Grande bristles with cultivated fields and a small orchard.
SHARING THE HARVEST: Ed Robertson takes a well-deserved breather with his wife, Irene (far left), and daughter, Julie Gribling (center) β and one of their four cats. Ed, 84, has been raising vegetables and fruits on his land off Riddle Road for decades, and donates much of the bounty to charity. - The Observer/ETHAN SCHOWALTER-HAY
Much of the productive harvest is bound for charity.
The Robertsons have lived on Riddle Road since April 1964, tending five acres of assorted crops. Onions, pumpkins, peas, asparagus, corn, beans, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables rub shoulders with cherry and other fruit trees.
Even before he retired as a millright at the Boise Cascade particle board plant in 1986, Ed tirelessly worked the soil.
“Dad used to come home from Boise Cascade and go right to work in the garden,” says his daughter, Julie Gribling.
At 84, he still spends much of his time close to the soil.
Initially selling to the fruit stand in Island City, Robertson took to donating to the senior center in La Grande.
The amount of donated produce varies from year to year, and some of it goes to another good cause — stocking the larders of the Robertsons’ extended family, including grandchildren who love to can.
Irene and Julie say that Ed, a Navy veteran, claims he’ll cut back each year, but despite three bouts with cancer and two hip replacements, he’s still going strong.
Julie says, “He plows, sprays, prunes, waters, weeds.”
“Well, I’m just a tough old bird,” Ed offers.
But he’s not one to tout his philanthropy.
When asked about a guiding philosophy, he chuckles, “You give it away, nobody can gripe about it.”