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Nature's fury: Hail storm strikes farmers' market garden

Press Photo by Linda Sailer Noy Twist inspects the damage to her garden on Wednesday following a hail storm the prior evening.

Noy and Roy Twist quietly walked around their garden on Wednesday, trying to estimate the damage caused by a hailstorm. A downpour of marble-sized hail the prior evening had pummeled many of the vegetables into the ground.

"It looks like everything has been run through a salad shooter," Roy said.

As members of the Roughrider Home Growers, they are uncertain what vegetables will be left for sale at the farmers' market.

"We'll have to look and see what kind of damage there is," Roy said.

Noy is hopeful they will remain in business, relying on the vegetables growing under the ground, such as the potatoes and onions. The tomato plants are standing and tomatoes are clinging to the vines, but they are uncertain if they will ripen or rot.

Vegetables such as the beans, cucumbers and squash are a total loss. Heartier vegetables such as the kohlrabies may be harvested.

"I think many farmers in southwestern North Dakota can identify with us," Roy said.

It was Noy's first experience with a hail storm since joining farmers' market 10 or 11 years ago.

A native of Thailand, Noy's love of gardening is credited to her family.

"I love to garden," she said. "I love being out there because here in North Dakota we have just one summer -- really short."

"Over there, they can grow all year long," Roy said. "It's tropical. You can produce again and again, over and over, all year long."

The Twists had a smaller garden in town before moving to the west edge of Dickinson.

Noy spends almost every day in the garden -- weeding, watering and harvesting. The children, Ben, Julia and Eric, help clean, package and sell the produce.

Besides earning extra money for the kids' college educations, she likes to cook with her herbs and vegetables.

"Noy takes pride in her work," Roy said. "Obviously it's some of the best food you're going to get -- just the freshness of it. She works awfully hard at it. I often say if she didn't enjoy it, it wouldn't be worth it."

The garden blossoms under her care with a generous use of compost manure.

"I use no chemicals, nothing," Noy said.

The Twist family is already looking toward next year when they plan to diversify.

"Part of the problem with farmers' markets is everybody has the same stuff coming at the same time," he said. "At times, it's difficult to sell what you have."

Next year, they're considering vegetables such as artichokes, eggplants, chilies and okra.

"The thing changed about Dickinson is if a person is able to grow those things, now I think you'll have a market for them," Roy said.