We are all going to die someday. It might be today, tomorrow or years in the future. We don’t know when, where or how. We can’t stop it, and it is part of the life cycle. Knowing this, the question is: how are you leaving a legacy for those who come behind you (future generations of your children and grandchildren)?
The Passing of Larry Hall
Last week, the gardening world and I got some sad news that made me think about leaving a legacy. Larry Hall passed away. For those of you who do not know who Larry Hall is, he is the creator of the Rain Gutter Grow System that I have experimented with in the past (and will be experimenting with this year). Larry was from Brainerd, Minnesota, and he created a low-cost way for people to successfully grow food no matter where they lived.
Larry developed his Rain Gutter Grow Systems quite by accident. He stumbled upon this concept by growing his own tobacco in Minnesota. He wanted to cut his costs after taxes and fees made the price of tobacco skyrocket. He tore up his garden and planted organic tobacco, which grew very well in the rich soil in his garden in northern Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Larry wanted to build self-watering systems for his vegetable garden. As he started to do research, Larry found Earth Boxes, but they were too expensive. He found another system that was less expensive, but with Larry working at Walmart, he wanted a “plant and forget system.” He wanted a way for his garden to water itself. He frankly was tired of watering this garden every day.
Larry started to test self-watering systems using 5 gallon buckets with 3″ net cups set in vinyl rain gutters in 2011. Larry built a platform for the gutters by using 10′-2×4 boards, and he would set the gutters and 5 gallon buckets on level ground. Larry worked with some folks to design and build a float system that could be connected to a rain barrel or a hose. As the water level goes down, the float moves and allows water to flow into the gutter until it is full of water. With the water in the gutter and the net cup in the water, the water wicks up into the soil in the net cup and into the 5 gallon bucket which completes the watering process.
With tweaking and some successful experiments under his belt, Larry promoted the concept of Rain Gutter Grow Systems. Larry was still working at Walmart at the time, and he obsessed about how he could turn this idea into a business. He listened to podcasts while he worked at Walmart and dreamed of the day he could launch his online business: Grow Bag Garden Systems.
My Connection to Larry Hall
Meanwhile, there was a newbie blogger down in the Twin Cities writing about gardening in small spaces (writing at Small Scale Gardening). I was working as a Manager of Engineering on a crazy $2 billion light rail project, but I had a dream of turning my brand new little blog into something some day. Larry was looking for a way to sell grow bags and other items he was developing online. In August 2014, I connected with Larry Hall from Brainerd, Minnesota.
I distinctly remember sitting in my office at work, stressing about some upcoming meeting or missed deadline, and suddenly I had a good old Larry on my cell phone. I dropped what I was doing, closed my office door and ended up having a 2 hour conversation with him. We talked about the start of Rain Gutter Grow Systems, gardening and launching Grow Bag Garden Systems online. I gave him some ideas about how to get online commerce going and some ideas about resources he could use to help him. A couple weeks later, he launched Grow Bag Garden Systems and soon left Walmart for good!
This was the start of a 5 year relationship with Larry. We had a lot of late night conversations, and I tried to get him on the Small Scale Life Podcast in 2018. My last attempt to get him on the podcast was in early 2019. I was in the Brainerd area a couple times during the infamous Government Shutdown, and I tried to connect with Larry (drove right past his house a couple times). Unfortunately, Larry was unavailable, and I missed the opportunity.
Now, I won’t have that opportunity until we meet someday in the next life.
Larry Hall – Leaving a Legacy
Larry Hall grew something special. He started with an odd little experiment in his yard and grew a thriving gardening business with a YouTube channel with over 103,000 subscribers and a Facebook Group with over 39,000 members. More importantly, he connected with a lot of people and gave them an opportunity to grow their own food successfully. It is amazing to see how many people in the Rain Gutter Grow System Facebook Group talk about successfully growing food for the first time! Larry gave these people the confidence to try using a low cost gardening method that works.
Larry was close to his family. He often would share quick videos of the meals he prepared for his family or someone in his family prepared for him. He had videos and pictures of his grandchildren working in his garden with him, and Larry shared videos of other family members with their Rain Gutter Grow Systems or rooting on the Green Bay Packers (one more thing we have in common).
He will be missed by all, especially his family and his wife of 35 years and best friend Eyvonne (Warner) Hall. Larry was laid to rest today (May 30, 2019) in Baxter, Minnesota. His obituary is published here.
How Am I Leaving a Legacy?
Larry’s passing made me think about leaving a legacy for my family and friends. I started blogging in 2014 after my grandma and dad passed away. I came to the realization that the stories and knowledge they possessed had gone to the great beyond with them.
My brother and I had many late-night conversations around a bonfire talking about what stories they could have told, what these folks would do in certain situations and how they did certain things (wine-making, sausage-making, gardening). All of those stories and opportunities were lost.
There is power in the written word, and I think there is even greater power in the human voice. Men and women have sat around the campfire since the earliest of times, telling stories and passing down traditions and ideas.
Small Scale Life and Small Scale Gardening are two ways that I am leaving a legacy for my future generations. These future generations will be able to read my thoughts and listen to my words as I walk them through financial freedom, planning a garden or getting a laugh with my impressions and skits. They will be able to see how Julie and I started from two scared kids in college to two thriving adults who are changing our family tree through better decisions and education.
Most importantly, we want people to see that there is hope, and that success is possible. It takes work and effort, but it is possible! That is our mission and how we will be leaving a legacy for future generations.
How are You Leaving a Legacy?
In the latest Contrary Farmstead podcast, Greg and Susan Burns had a recent podcast where they talked about Susan’s great grandfather and his ability to grow food by grafting plants and vines. While he could not speak English, his son learned from his work in the garden and could pass those stories on to Greg and Susan. Last year, Greg got clippings from great grandfather’s apple trees and grape vines, and they successfully grafted them onto plants on their homestead. That is a great way to leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy.
Larry Hall built a successful business for his family or others to take over and run. He has impacted thousands of people around the world and given them confidence and healthy food to eat.
Julie and I are writing articles and recording podcasts to teach our future generations and others how to live a better life, a life you love.
What are you doing? How are you leaving a legacy for the future?
As the ancient Chinese proverb says:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese Proverb
Get after it, Lifers, and start building your legacy today!
Listen to the Podcast
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