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A lifetime of gardening, preserving

What he now does as a hobby, Andy McIntosh used to do just to survive.
McIntosh has been gardening for as long as he can remember, growing up on a small farm in southern Unicoi County where he and his family would raise their own food and preserve as much as possible to get through the winter.
“No matter what I’ve done as a career, I’ve always kept a garden and preserved food,” he says.
After growing up on the family farm, McIntosh enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for three years during the early years of the Vietnam war.
Upon his return, he earned his teaching degree from East Tennessee State University and began teaching high school math at Unicoi County High School.
After 10 years of teaching, McIntosh began a second career, this time in industry, at Nuclear Fuel Services, where he worked for 28 years.
He retired approximately four years ago, settling into gardening.
McIntosh has more than 1 acre of land that he dedicates to gardening. He grows a little bit of everything typically found in a garden, as well as peach and apple trees.
“I grow quite a few potatoes, a lot of tomatoes, a lot of beans and a mixture of everything else,” he says.
Much of what McIntosh grows in his garden is the same kind of foods he and his family raised when he was young.
McIntosh also uses many of the same preservation methods he and his family used on their farm.
“We primarily canned foods, then freezers came along and we started freezing a lot of fresh fruit,” he says. “So I continue to do that; I’ll can about anything.”
McIntosh also dries fruits and vegetables from his garden, though it is limited to a select few fruits and vegetables.
Dried fruits or vegetables have a more concentrated flavor than they do when eaten fresh. And dried produce must be reconstituted with water and then cooked.
“I have dried some fruit, but mostly beans,” McIntosh says. “Not a lot of people do that anymore. They’re commonly called shuck beans or leather britches. They’re a green bean dried.”
While McIntosh indulges in much of his produce himself, he also sells a portion of it at the farmers market in Jonesborough, as well as at his farm, McIntosh Woods.
He has been with the Jonesborough Farmers Market for about four years.
While he and his family used to sell their produce at the farmers market in Asheville, N.C. during the late 1950s and early 1960s, this is the first farmers market he has been a part of during this stage of his life.
“This one [Jonesborough] is different in that everything here is locally grown,” he says. “The one in Asheville had produce from everywhere, more like the one in Johnson City now. Produce might be coming out of Carolina, out of state somewhere, from Virginia, but I think if it’s a local market, it should be locally grown.”
McIntosh intends to garden for as long as he can, enjoying both the labor and the food it produces.
“I just hope more people start gardening,” say McIntosh. “It’s great food.”