In past years, Blase Distefano has planted a few sunflowers in his garden. “I really liked the way they look, so I thought it would be nice to plant a whole row of them this year,” Distefano said while standing next to a long row of tall stalks, their bright yellow blossoms facing the sun.
The sunflowers are a whimsical addition to a very productive and carefully tended vegetable garden, which is surprising to see in the city’s Mount Washington neighborhood. “My family lived on Jackson Street, and we kept a garden here for 65 years,” Distefano said. “This area was all farmland once. Many local families had gardens here before all the houses were built.”.
About 25 years ago, Distefano and his wife decided to build their home on the land. “We were going to build close to Pilling Street, but the builder suggested that we build on the other end so we could look downhill instead of uphill,” he said. “That was a good suggestion.”
Distefano’s garden is so productive that he brings his excess produce to Peters’ Farm in Salem, New Hampshire, to be sold.
Distefano works full-time at Haverhill High School and still finds time to farm the sizeable plot of land, which is located in a residential neighborhood a block from Tilton school. Gardening is clearly a labor of love for Distefano. “The land is here,” he said, “so we may as well put it to good use.”