Things look different around the property belonging to David Sumpter, located just outside of Henryville, Indiana, than they did a few weeks ago. Sumpter will never forget the infamous March 2, 2012 tornado that leveled his house, greenhouse and chicken house, and stirred up his organic vegetable supplies.
Sumpter was driving on the road approaching his home and hadn’t realized there had been a major tornado in the area. It was only when he drove over the top of a crest and saw trees blocking the road to his property that he realized a devastating storm had just passed through his area. But he still wasn’t prepared for the traumatic shock of viewing his farm for the first time following the twister, which also leveled a large section of Henryville.
These days, a new house has been erected, the greenhouse is restored and things are well under way to take care of a house for his chickens. Blue cage-looking Wall-o-Waters surround his newly planted organic vegetables and his property is well on its way to budding fruit and flowers for the upcoming summer.
It was nearly 18 years ago that Sumpter started putting together his organic dream of helping elderly people in the Henryville area. Over the years, he developed huge crops of asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, okra, blueberries and a unique meaty fruit known as Asian pear apples.
He spoke of his gardening passion. “The key is making sure you have a really healthy climate where the roots of the plant are located,” said Sumpter. “I use worm castings, bone meal, and organic potash as key ingredients of fertilizing. Dig the soil up and bring it up to about 18 inches high. The more soil there is around something, the better the roots will be and the more the plants will produce.”
Sumpter surrounds his plants with Wall-o-Water protectors in order to shield them from chilly weather and create a moist climate for plant survival during hot and dry weather. The Henryville farmer noted that plants such as peppers and tomatoes grow to several feet high and produce hundreds of fruit specimens in such a climate.
“It was amazing the way the Christians started coming in to help restore my house and farm,” said Sumpter. “Ninety-nine percent of the people who came in were Christians from different states.”
Recently, he built a large cross to honor those who were dedicated to restoring his farm.
Sumpter shared that the first morning of helper influx, he was asked what he wanted to see completed first, and his immediate response was the greenhouse. “That’s what they did. They just came in and started building it,” Sumpter said. The project team, also known as the “Three Nails Project,” rebuilt the greenhouse in 48 hours.
“When I first saw the place, I wished that the storm had taken me, too,” said Sumpter. “At first I thought my dogs were gone; they were my friends. Then I heard them bark and I realized they were still alive.”
“I said to the Christian helpers, ‘You all have given me a reason to keep going; you have reshaped my faith in the future,'” noted Sumpter. “There will be more people than ever with need this summer because of the tornado. I want to do all I can to start getting produce to them.”
One special miracle took place in Sumpter’s heart while volunteers were rebuilding his house and restoring his property. He started sharing himself with people for the first time in 12 years…since his daughter was killed in an accident involving a drunk driver.
“I just closed up and didn’t talk to anybody about it,” said Sumpter. “My way of giving wasn’t through what I said but rather the produce that I gave away. Now I started talking again, too. I guess you might say that some good things also came out of this tornado.”