From the Publisher’s Files: A tribute to Lynn Buerki… Making our annual trip to the turnip patch

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By Paul Rhodes, publisher and editor

June 18, 2020

Editor’s Note: An old friend of mine, Lynn Buerki, died this past week and his obituary can be found in this week’s newspaper. Rather than re-plowing an old field (Lynn was a staunch conservationist) I’m recycling a column of mine from November of 2017 that speaks to Lynn’s legacy…and still touches my heart.

I got a phone call last week from Lynn Buerki letting me know it was “time.”
Time, in this case, was a reference to picking turnips. And giant radishes. And this year, a little kale.
Lynn and I have known each other for the past 25 years. He farms out south of Goddard, and is known around these parts as one of the original godfathers of soil conservation.
In his early 20s, he helped plant the seeds of conservation in Sedgwick County, and now, in his mid-80s, he continues to plant trees and watch the conservation movement grow. He’s been active with the Sedgwick County Conservation District for more than 60 years, and a few years ago was honored with a Special Conservation Award for his lifetime commitment.
He’s known as “Mr. Conservation” around these parts, and for good reason. And, he’s a past president of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, so he’s also known across the state for his efforts.
I first met Lynn at a Conservation District meeting in my early days of covering events for our newspaper group, and still run into him occasionally. In fact, we had lunch together at last year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner in Goddard, and that’s were we had our first conversation about turnips.
I grew up with parents who were prolific gardeners, and we grew – and ate – everything that was considered to be a vegetable. That included turnips, and no…I never made a vow that I would never eat turnips again.
But it had been years since I’d cooked up a batch of turnips, and Lynn invited me out to pick some from one of his alfalfa fields, where he routinely plants turnips and other tubers that help the soil and provide some good eats, if you’re into those kinds of vegetables.
So this past Saturday, gloomy weather and all, Kim and I made what is now becoming our annual trek out to the turnip patch. It’s a date that just sings of adventure, and for us produced a couple of buckets of bountiful harvest. We came home with lots of turnips, a few of the giant white radishes that Lynn also grew, and this year’s new addition – kale.
We’ll share the harvest with friends, but mostly we’ll savor the opportunity we had to get out into the country, get our shoes a little muddy, and to commune with the soil that still feeds the world around us. I appreciate the fact that my old friend Lynn Buerki thought of me as the weather turned chilly and it was time to venture out to his turnip fields, and hopefully we’ll be able to complete that adventure again in the future.
In the meantime, I’ll have to let Google do a little research for me and see if I can come up with a new turnip recipe to try out this winter…
They’re turnips, after all. Sometimes you need to come up with new ways to make them tasty.