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Local gardeners reap bumper crop of Maryland State Fair ribbons [column]

Who says people in the suburban neighborhoods in our area can't grow prize-winning vegetables? Rose Marie Fury walked away with 27 ribbons from the Maryland State Fair this year. Nine of the ribbons were for her homegrown vegetables including purple potatoes, red potatoes, red onions and sweet onions, all of which she grew in her backyard garden that is roughly 25 feet by 45 feet.

And Fury's talent extends beyond gardening. She also won in the food preservation and baked goods and candy divisions.

For the home arts food preservation division, persons enter foods they have canned in glass jars, which involves placing the filled jars in a boiling water bath anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Fury preserves much of the produce from her garden using this method. At the fair, she won eight ribbons in this category. Her mulberry jelly and her maple-walnut syrup both took first place.

In the baked goods division, her original recipe for homemade cherry scones took two awards. They won the blue ribbon in scones section and the quick bread section award. Fury said she laughed because she didn't even taste these items until after she returned home from entering them.

Finally, she said she "was honored" to win the Helen Burns Smyth award for her garlic basil butter. She churned the butter using a modern version of the old fashioned churn and added garlic and basil that she grew in her garden. She received this award at a special ceremony on the last Sunday of the fair.

How does a city girl develop such an interest in gardening? She said her interest goes back to her childhood, where she lived on a gentleman's farm growing vegetables and raising chickens and a pig or two. But she didn't start entering her wares in the fair until 2011.

She seems to enjoy the challenge of growing a variety of plants. In 2011, she grew peanuts. That year she won a second place ribbon for her artichokes and won champion for her spring onions that she grew from seed. Her lemon balm wine jelly made with lemon balm from her garden took the preservation department special award in 2012. In all, she estimates her garden has generated about 25 percent of her family's grocery needs. She definitely is a blue-ribbon gardener!

And, also from the area, Beverly and Ted Gross won grand champion in the vegetable exhibitor category, an award they've been seeking for 31 years. All of their 27 entries took a prize. They won 10 first-place ribbons, four second-place, 11 third-place and one each fourth- and fifth-place ribbon. They grow all of their plants from seeds. Congratulations to all of the fair winners!

Since the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks is approaching, Hiss United Methodist Church plans to honor firefighters, police and paramedics from the community at a special service on Sept. 15 at 11a.m. Within the congregation, there are some honorees. Bob Jagoe, John Cluster and Lyle Tilton are current or retired police officers. Steve Gibson is an emergency service specialist with the Baltimore County Fire Department.

The congregation has also sent invitations to Parkville, White Marsh and Loch Raven police and/or fire stations. Dianne Thompson, the church's director of evangelism and communication, said, "Our first responders do so much for us and we would like to recognize their efforts." Following the service, all honorees are invited to a churchwide pot luck luncheon.

Persons from the community can submit names and area of service to have their first responder included. Submit to Jo Steele, coordinator of the event, at or call the church at 410-668-5665. The church is located at 8700 Harford Road.

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