Shared from the 8/11/2018 San Antonio Express eEdition

‘Father of Organic Gardening’ co-founded Garden-Ville in ’57

William Luther / Staff file photo

Garden-Ville co-founder Malcolm Beck shows off an organically grown cabbage from his garden in 2007.

Staff file photo

Beck was the author of several books on organic gardening and farming.

The tall man with white hair was known by many names in the gardening community.

“Compost King of South Texas.” “Family Farmer.” “Father of Organic Gardening.”

Malcom Beck, founder with his wife, Delphine, of Garden-Ville, died July

31. He was 82.

He is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter and their families.

The gardening community will celebrate Beck’s life at a 10 a.m. memorial service Sunday at Roszell Gardens Wedding and Events Center, 7561 E. Evans Road.

There are tales that Beck was just 3 years old when he dug his first garden. Friends said he was known for helping fellow gardeners seek alternative materials and methods. Colleagues said his love of agriculture was a lifelong affair.

In 1957, Beck and his wife started Garden-Ville as an organic farm near the center. That led them to Evans Road where they started a 100-acre farm that became a major source of compost supplies in the area.

A railroad switchman for 33 years, Beck studied nature as he raised and sold organic produce as a second career. Coupled with advice from old tillers of the land, he experimented with fertilizer and variations of soil, charting the techniques that worked and those that failed.

He became a sought-after lecturer and wrote several books, including “The Garden-Ville Method,” “Lessons in Nature” “and “The Secret Life of Compost.”

Horticulturist Calvin Finch said Beck provided leadership in organic gardening, not just in San Antonio but in Texas and across the United States. He was constantly thinking about the impact on the environment, Finch said.

“He was always willing to discuss issues with gardeners and horticulturists,” Finch said, “and was a very reliable source of information. He gave the industry credibility. When Malcolm came out with a claim, you could expect it to work the way he said.”

At the Friends of PLANTanswers website, Jerry Parsons said someone would have to explain dishonesty to Beck — it was such was a foreign concept to him.

As far back as 1977, in a column for the San Antonio Light, Parsons wrote about how Beck grew vegetables without fertilizer or chemical insecticides.

He said at the time that the world hadn’t witnessed the full impact of the organic gardener and his family’s findings from their northeastern Bexar County farm.

“Their commitment prompts experimentation, which is the spark of all knowledge,” Parsons wrote. “We will all continue to reap the benefits of Beck’s persistent search for a better way to grow.

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