Mums galore

The Leidig family helped customers at their Tyrone farm last weekend during their annual Mum Mania event.

Leidig’s Farm is nestled in the countryside off Ridge Road, Tyrone and has been part of the landscape for 50 years.

It all started at a fruit market in Huntingdon, operated by Don and Donna Leidig. The market was shut down when the highway was put in. That is when the couple found and purchased 150 acres between Tyrone and Warriors Mark — wanting a place for their kids to be able to play ball and ride their bikes.

“We bought this place in 1959,” said Don, who was born in Chambersburg and grew up in Huntingdon. “We’ve been married longer than that...56 years.”

“My parents had a fruit market in Huntingdon along the river in Smithfield,” he said. “Her parents had a diner across the street. We farmed and did different things; grew vegetables.”

Diane Leidig, daughter of Don and Donna, said she was probably three when they came to Tyrone area. There was an old farmhouse and an unpainted barn. “It’s been awhile,” she laughed, recalling that at one point, they even raised hogs.

Now, a good portion of 80 acres is planted with a variety of produce and plants. The plot has 15 greenhouses which the Leidigs say keep them busy. Initially, they housed vegetables and eventually flowers. That all started in the ‘70s when Donna decided to plant marigolds.

“That just kind of grew every year — her area got a little bigger,” said Don. “She grew flowers and started selling a few. It wasn’t long and it was pretty much flowers and not as many vegetables. That’s how it happened.”

“Now, that’s what we do — a lot of flowers,” said Diane, who has worked at the farm for as long as she can remember. Her dad said she works a lot of hours — too many. “We all have a role and everybody knows what to do, so it all gets done,” she said.

The Leidigs’ five children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren all help at the farm, especially in spring and fall when tasks are extra busy. Don and Donna hope their livelihood continues for future generations.

“My grandson loves to pick sweet corn and he learned early how to tell when they are ready,” said Donna.

Diane said that both of her parents have always been around people, and that her mom enjoys the job because of the people.

“My mom just likes the people,” she said. “She has had a bout of cancer and she still came out and ran the register. She just likes the people — it’s the thing that keeps her going. Everybody is nice; we have a lot of repeat customers so you know everybody.”

“Yeah, I guess so. That’s probably right,” Donna chuckled and agreed. “Everyone calls me Mom Leidig. My husband thinks I should have been a therapist or psychologist because anyone who has any problems, they just bring them here.

“There are a lot of older people who are lonely and a lot of people like that who come here. They sit here and if they find someone to talk to, it’s great because they have company,” said Donna, who has made the extra effort to send cards or other gesture to customers going through a rough time.

The farm allows a place to relax and even find fellowship. The Leidigs enjoy talking with anyone who stops by, sharing stories, thoughts, and laughs.

“It can be very relaxing,” said Don of the farm’s atmosphere and doing the job of planting.

“And it’s never the same thing here,” said Donna. “You go from one season to another. You always run ahead and try to get ready for the next season, so you’re not doing the same exact thing all the time.”

The family held Mum Mania last weekend, which is one of the biggest events at the farm every September. The event offers specials on mums, and provides lunch for customers as a way to show appreciation. Now, it is on to poinsettias and wreaths just ahead of the Christmas season to wrap up another year and start on year 51.

Adeena Harbst can be reached at aharbst@thedailyherald.net

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