by Matthew Jordan
The air is more breathable here. the scents of uncountable plants and vegetables are accompanied by the gentle humming of hundreds of nature’s hardest workers. There’s harmony in this garden, a circle of life. The bees pollinate the plants, the plants feed the bees, the bees thrive only when the plants thrive. Within our world is this smaller world, all watched over by one man and his family.
David Stucky maintains this harmonious microcosm with the hopes of maintaining sustainability within his neighborhood. With less than a half acre, Stucky raises chicken for eggs, bees for honey and enough plants and vegetables to feed his family and himself. Following the idea of keeping his food as “close to the earth” as possible, Stucky never uses chemicals. Fertilizer that may be outright offensive to the senses provides for fertile, healthy plants. Rotting banana peels and coffee grounds are returned to the earth and are resurrected as snow peas, sugar beets and hops.
Stucky sits against a raised bed, small sprouts in single file hold the promise of Yukon Golds. “Here, put your hand up by the opening, you can feel the warmth,” Stucky says, fearless. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of bees, all working with beyond mechanical precision venture from the opening of the hive. The air around it is warm, very warm. The bees don’t mind, or maybe they don’t know, they have a job to do. “You could watch them all day and never get bored.”
Stucky respects the bees and their homes. The bees ignore him, for the most part. Neighbors will call Stucky to remove and relocate a hive or swarm when other bee keepers or pest control agencies would simply kill the hive. One of the hives Stucky caught in the wild with no more than a cardboard box, “it’s easier when they’re in a swarm, they have no home to protect so you just shake a branch and they all fall in.”
Stucky built the hives, he built the potato bed he was sitting on, his son, Canaan built the trellis the hops will eventually latch to and climb. Stucky has two children, one, Canaan lives with him and Stucky’s mother in Eugene. The other lives in South Africa. He grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Civil Engineering degree. Afterwards, he spent three years in Central America helping the refugees of civil wars. Stucky went to graduate school in Eugene in 1990 and has been here ever since.
Besides managing a fruitful garden, Stucky owns Taruu llc, a technical consulting and training firm based out of Illinois, giving Computer Consultants advice to large corporations. A busy man, Stucky also plays guitar and piano and skis, hikes, bikes and kayaks. He seems at home with nature, and nature treats him well, the garden produces plenty of food and Stucky says the bees are able to produce 40 pounds of honey or more and the chickens, all female, lay more eggs than Stucky says he would ever need.
Stucky believes in sustainability. His philosophy towards life extends beyond himself and his family. “My garden is open to everyone,” he says. College students will sometimes join him in his garden to plant seeds and harvest the vegetables. One group harvested hops from Stucky’s garden and brewed beer at home. Stucky rides his bike whenever possible, “when you’re young you shouldn’t need a car.” His garden is organic, all his growing practices are sustainable and reusable. Within the small world of Stucky’s garden a movement has begun spanning in all directions. With every sprout and every honeycomb Dave Stucky is returning to the earth what he takes, and in turn, he is helping make our air cleaner, our soil richer and our world more beautiful.