“The Queen had written us a letter expressing concern about the length of the lily stems,” smiled Wadson, 61, a tall, craggy sort with calloused hands and rugged spirit honed by almost 40 years of tilling the land in the hot Bermuda sun. “Well, that year, I met her once at a formal get-together here.”
Wadson is known around Bermuda not just for the Bermuda hogs he raises, or the dozens of types of fruits, vegetables and flowers he grows, or his busy farmer’s market stand or the farm being named “Best Greengrocer” by Bermudian Magazine or the publication’s “Award of Excellence, Best of Bermuda Gold” for food and beverages in 2008. He’s also known for his playful sense of humor, straightforward and blunt
“So I told her, ‘Your Majesty, we have a microscopic complaint department but just wanted you to know that your complaint stood out because it’s the only one we’ve gotten that was handwritten!’” Wadson roared one day at the farm, telling the story and pointing out lilies being grown for the queen this Easter.
The queen took it in stride, Wadson said, even smiling at the comment. And later that night, Wadson said, he went and quaffed a few brews with her husband, Prince Philip, whom Wadson dubbed, “a good fellow, a down-to-earth sort.”
Wadson started his farm in 1976, dabbling in farming prior to that, going to school abroad, then graduating from Ontario Agricultural College in Canada. The farm was doing well – until Hurricane Fabian destroyed the whole thing in 2003. He built it up again, but transitioned from conventional to organic farming in the process.
The farm does a lot of school tours, and will soon get a commercial kitchen and open a little café at the farmer’s market, which sells all manner of what Wadson grows or harvests, including duck eggs, lamb meat, and a wide range of organic vegetables. The farm is the island’s only CSA (community supported agriculture) site, Wadson said.
Taking a tour of the farm one day, Wadson showed us parched fields with chickens running about them, which come season’s end, they’ll plow under, enriching the soil, turning the brown earth to green grass the following year because, Wadson winked about what chickens leave behind, “we’re just using what nature drops us.”
He also rents some land near a former U.S. Navy base, using it to graze a few dozen sheep, land likely to be developed into a massive resort at some point but for now suiting his sheep’s grazing needs just fine.
The farm is open for regular tours, which if you’re lucky, you’ll get Wadson to conduct. Feel free to ask about the Queen’s lilies. If he wasn’t shy with her, he won’t be shy telling you about it. For information on the farm, visit www.wadsonsfarm.com