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Gerald Stratford Knows How to Garden

  • June 19, 2021

Farming not only brought joy, but it also brought sorrow into Mr. Stratford’s life. While it gives him comfort it also killed Peter. When he was 10, his family moved from the cottage to subsidized housing in Cassington after his father contracted chronic farmer’s lung, which is caused by inhaling too much dust and mold from crops. Mr. Stratford revered his father. “He was my king,” he said. His father died at 60 when Mr. Stratford was 19.

Mr. Stratford struggled in school — he was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia — and struggled to make friends.

“My nickname at the time was ‘banger’ because when somebody had a go at me for being thick, I used to hit them,” Mr. Stratford said. “You know, I’m not proud of it; you have to defend yourself.”

At the time, fishing made Mr. Stratford happiest. He and the dog would venture into the wilderness and find a spot to fish.

“I learned pretty quick that if you just sit quietly and mind your own business, Mother Nature will come to you. If you see a grass snake in the summer, it will scurry away or swim across the river, but if you don’t move and just stay there, eventually, it will turn around and come back, and it will go about its business,” Mr. Stratford said. “It’s the same as a vole or a rat or a badger or a deer or bird, if you do nothing, it will accept you. It’s only man’s greed to control everything which makes, at times, our wildlife frightened.”

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