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The family that farms together, wins together

The Deehr family shows off their ribbons (from left) Lori, Noel and John. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
September 01, 2010 - A green thumb must run in the Deehr family.

Leonard resident Noel Deehr, 17, and her parents Lori and John each won multiple awards as the Oakland County Fair and the Armada fair this past summer.

However, Noel out did her parents, racking up over 11 first, second and third place ribbons for her homegrown organic vegetables.

"It was cool because a lot of ones I won were for vegetables and I am interested in going into farming," Noel said.

At the Oakland County Fair, which was held on July 13-18, she won for largest cucumber, which was 15 inches long and largest pepper. She dominated the competition at Armada, winning first place for field pumpkin, largest cucumber, hot pepper and for a photo she took at the 2009 Armada fair.

The fair ran Aug. 16-22.

She won second place ribbons for two photos, a pepper display and largest squash. She received a third place ribbon for her tomatillos, a Mexican tomato.

This was the first year that Noel had entered any kind of gardening competition.

"Oakland County and Armada are big fairs and both are in big areas and for a first-timer to take largest cucumber in both Oakland County and Armada blows my mind because that is the whole county and one kid takes it," John said.

To say Noel was excited when she found out she won at the fairs would be an understatement.

"My mom was kind of laughing at me because I was freaking out, especially at Armada because I entered the adult category and a lot of people in Armada are big agriculture people and they know how to do this stuff and I am just a kid," Noel said.

Noel has always been interested in gardening. Her family moved out to Leonard from their previous home in Rochester, giving Noel the opportunity to expand her garden.

"I guess I have always been interested in it, even at our old house in Rochester I had a garden...this is the first year I have been able to do it on a larger scale," she said.

She added that her garden used to be in a small space in front of the house, but she switched it a herb garden and planted her main garden in the back of the house.

Noel was not the only Deehr to capture ribbons at the Armada Fair. Her mother Lori entered into the baked goods competition and won first place for quick bread and second place for chocolate chip cookies.

Her father John even got in on the ribbon collecting, winning first place in the antique garden implement category.

"I had a roto-tiller that ran," said John. "So I (dragged) it over there, and lo and behold, I get first place for that. I was pretty excited because it is nothing pretty to look at, but apparently it was good enough to look at," he said.

Both John and Noel got a good laugh when he admitted that they used the prize winning roto-tiller to put the garden together for Noel's prize winning vegetables.

She wasn't able to enjoy her prize winning vegetables after Armada, because by rule, she had to throw them out.

Noel, who was home-schooled, is currently enrolled at Oakland Community College and is working towards an associates in applied sciences landscape or developing.

She eventually would like to transfer to a college in Ohio to get her bachelors in Biology with an emphasis in agriculture.

"That is what she is passionate about, farming," said her mother.

"I think the biggest thing for me is doing it all for the honor and glory of God," Noel said. "It's not oh I got a ribbon, which is exciting, but I want to honor and glorify God with my life and what I do."

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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