42: Birth of the Rototiller Club

42: Birth of the Rototiller Club

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less


Birth of the Rototiller Club

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.

~Henry Ford

After many months of fruitlessly searching for our perfect first home, we decided to build in a small development in a rural area of New Jersey. The houses were great starter ranch-style homes that attracted other young cash-strapped couples. Because we were all new to the area, it was easy to make friends and the neighborhood quickly bonded.

The first spring in our new home we decided to try our hand at planting a vegetable garden. Other neighbors shared our enthusiasm and planned to do the same. Unfortunately, the ground in our development was hard and filled with rocks. Our attempts at turning over the soil with a pitchfork didn’t last long. We needed a rototiller but it was too expensive for any of us to purchase on our own. So we decided to share! Five families chipped in and we even put aside some extra cash for future maintenance.

It was early spring 1976 when the rototiller arrived. The five families gathered for a celebratory backyard barbecue. Thus the Rototiller Club was born and we dubbed our barbecue the First Annual Rototiller Picnic.

Over the years, the tiller was well used, well maintained and celebrated at our yearly picnic. Our gardens grew and so did our families. One family was transferred and one departed for a larger house in a nearby town. Rights to the rototiller went along with the sale of the houses.

On July 4, 1991 the three remaining families hosted a fifteen-year reunion of the original members of the Rototiller Club. All five of the original families attended along with the new members who had inherited rights when they bought their houses. The tiller was ceremoniously rolled out looking like new, all decorated in red, white, and blue streamers. It was started up to the sound of cheers and clicking cameras.

Through the pooling of our resources in those early cash-poor days we saved money, had one less material possession, freed up garage space, and shared maintenance costs. Best of all, sharing that rototiller with our neighbors produced not only successful gardens but beautiful lasting friendships as well.

~Mary Grant Dempsey


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