If you have at any time grown garlic in Maine, you probable have David Fuller to thank.
For just about a quarter century, Fuller, a College of Maine Cooperative Extension agriculture qualified centered in Farmington, has been teaching untold quantities of Mainers how to improve hardneck garlic.
Unlike the softneck garlic that is typically observed in grocery outlets, hardneck garlic has a rigid stem coming up from the center of the bulb and a one row of cloves that are a lot more flavorful and easy to peel. When most heat weather-loving softneck garlic in Maine is imported from California or even China, chilly-hardy hardneck garlic can be developed proper right here in Maine.
Now, as Fuller prepares to retire, he leaves guiding a legacy that has adjusted Maine’s agriculture forever. After a niche crop in the condition, Fuller has transformed garlic into a Maine yard staple via each his investigate and his educational YouTube video clips that have captivated a world wide following and been viewed by hundreds of thousands of persons.
Fuller became passionate about hardneck garlic prior to he even started doing the job at the College of Maine.
“Garlic had character,” Fuller stated. “It’s not grown from genuine seed so there is not sexual copy. This garlic that you are developing goes again thousands of yrs you’re operating with background as properly as planting a crop. It is a actually super interesting plant.”
When Fuller used to the UMaine Cooperative Extension place, he was tasked with creating and educating a class on a topic of his selecting as aspect of the application approach. By natural means, he chose to teach a course on hardneck garlic.
“No 1 else in extension was actually functioning on garlic and I considered it experienced a large amount of likely for the condition to be a ton more substantial than it was at the time,” Fuller reported.
Around the course of his vocation, Fuller offered palms-on schooling for professional growers and residence gardeners alike in the cultivation, harvest, curing and storage of garlic in Maine. Fuller worked carefully with his colleague, crops professional Steven Johnson, to helm quite a few study projects that were vital to comprehension how the crop grows in the point out, from how removing the garlic scape impacts the dimensions of the bulb to what happens when you plant a bulb proper facet up versus upside down.
Johnson claimed that decades back, the only hardneck garlic he can try to remember viewing in Maine was located at the Typical Floor Honest. Now, thanks to Fuller, hardneck garlic can be identified in gardens throughout the state, from novices to grasp gardeners.
Johnson even claims that he gave Fuller his nickname, the “garlic expert.”
“He has a passion for the crop that is exceptional and it is very refreshing,” Johnson claimed. “I assume he launched so numerous individuals to an quick vegetable to develop in the backyard garden and a person that isn’t something that most persons grew up with in the backyard.”
This slide, as Fuller well prepared for his impending retirement in February 2022, he required to uncover a house for the 800 bulbs he experienced applied in his exploration.
“I have bought 40 plots of 20 bulbs every single that I obtain facts from and I save a bunch of that to replant,” stated Fuller, who preferred the bulbs to provide numerous needs from education to supplying food pantries to serving to the Wabanaki tribes in Maine establish their very own foodways.
Fuller’s analysis garlic now has a next lifetime in 54 locations in just about each Maine county.
Laura Hoeft, Better Franklin Foodstuff Council’s faculty back garden mentor, obtained some of the donated garlic for the educational institutions exactly where she performs. She has been given garlic from Fuller in decades earlier as properly, as it will make for a excellent rising challenge for young kids.
“He was super generous and donated enough garlic to plant at all of the universities with whom I get the job done,” Hoeft claimed. “We finished up providing the heads as presents to all the neighborhood members that aided out. Dave’s garlic is currently being distribute in the course of the county.”
Fuller claimed that in actuality, garlic is only a little portion of what he has labored on at the cooperative extension. He has worked with dwelling gardeners and agricultural producers alike for crop generation, as perfectly as conducting investigate on non-timber forest products like birch bark and fiddleheads.
On the other hand, his operate with hardneck garlic has described his legacy in Maine. There is no telling how a great deal garlic is developing in Maine thanks to Fuller’s experience and enthusiasm in excess of the previous 3 a long time — which, he mentioned between tears, will go on even just after he retires.
“Growing garlic is like a raindrop hitting a puddle,” Fuller explained. “Other folks love garlic and they share it with other individuals and it goes out like that.”
In the meantime, he will proceed to increase garlic in his personal backyard garden — which, he mentioned, are the immediate descendents of the garlic he acquired practically a few decades ago that started out it all.