The things people are most passionate about are the ones that can often be impossible to let go of. Circumstances may change, or one’s whole life might get turned upside down, but if someone is truly passionate about something, then chances are they'll get drawn back to it, no matter what.
Such is the story of Louisiana’s Bruce M. Burnham. Now a grown man and a father, Bruce discovered his passion for gardening when he was a child, thanks to his grandfather, Bop. Over the years, his passion became so strong that even after a life-altering event, Bruce got back to gardening and started growing again.
An Accident that Changed his Life
Bruce was shot in the neck by accident, shortly after graduating from high school. A fourteen-year-old boy was playing around with an actual rifle in his house. Before this, Bruce had wanted to become a veterinarian. After the accident, he became quadriplegic, and could not move for a long time. Burnham went through months of rehab before being able to enroll in college.
Despite all of the hardship, Bruce could not let go of his love for gardening. He started growing again while in college. Beginning with a terrarium, he grew lettuce and tomatoes. He then had to move away from gardening for several years in order to earn a living. During these years, he ran a business and got married.
Finding an Answer
Bruce's use of a wheelchair kept him from gardening. One day, however, he found the answer he was looking for, in a book called Square-Foot Gardening.
Burnham found out that if he couldn’t bend down far enough to reach vegetable beds, he could raise them up instead. All it took was raising the soil about 8 to 12 inches, and Bruce was able to reach the plants from his chair. He quickly had raised beds installed for his plants, and was reunited with his passion all over again.
Making it All Work
Despite his physical limitations, Bruce has once again embraced his love for growing living things. His garden has grown from just a few beds to a total of thirteen, each anywhere from 15 to 75 feet long. He grows kale, potatoes, cabbage, onion, and a whole lot of other vegetables. Located in Louisiana, he also benefits from weather that supports vegetable growth for most of the year.
Bruce still sometimes faces challenges. While he can handle most of the work by himself, if something heavy needs to be carried or if a large area needs tilling, he has to ask for help. Luckily, his daughter has a growing passion for gardening as well, and has become his helper. Other teens also help Bruce from time to time.
Burnham's love for growing food has also been cultivated thanks to the love and support of his friends and family. He is currently working on having a greenhouse constructed so that he can take his gardening to the next level. Through all of this, Bruce just hopes to inspire young folks to keep on growing, just like his grandfather originally inspired him to do.