Liz Storlie, her family and neighborhood friends have been working on a garden fundraiser to raise money for their Relay For Life team. From left are Erin Gossman, Victoria Hershberger, Liz Storlie and Jerome Storlie with their dog, Sammy.  BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Liz Storlie, her family and neighborhood friends have been working on a garden fundraiser to raise money for their Relay For Life team. From left are Erin Gossman, Victoria Hershberger, Liz Storlie and Jerome Storlie with their dog, Sammy. BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Cancer has touched the lives of nearly everyone in Fillmore County, whether they have a friend or family member with cancer or if they have battled the diseased themselves.

It is a prevalent disease with many, many facets. Millions of people across the country and world have organized or participated in fundraisers like the Relay For Life to combat cancer and find its cure. One family in Greenleafton has found its own unique way to raise money for the Relay For Life organization.

Liz Storlie and her family have been involved in Relay For Life for the past two years, forming Team Greenleafton. One day, she brainstormed an idea of raising a vegetable garden and using it as a fundraiser. She would sell the produce to working moms and families in the area and give the proceeds to Relay For Life.

"This is more of an experiment since this is the first year. I got word out about the garden trying to get the locals to call for items and support the idea," she related.

Ever since she was young, Storlie was involved in raising a vegetable garden for her family.

"I grew up Amish and grew up gardening. I learned a lot growing up that way," she commented. "I love gardening. It is what I like to do, there is nothing I'd rather do than gardening. There is nothing like growing produce from seed and bringing it to the table."

Preparations for the next garden generally begin in the fall the year before, at the conclusion of that year's gardening season.

"My husband plows the garden in the fall, breaking it up and making it less lumpy. The garden keeps getting bigger every year and now it is about 20 to 25 yards long and about half of that wide," she described. "I start growing peppers and tomatoes in March and move outside in May. I did try April before, but it did not pay off because of the cold weather."

In addition to the tomatoes and peppers, Storlie plants a variety of vegetables in the garden. Pumpkins, squash, carrots, beets, lettuce, kohlrabi, summer squash, sweet corn, potatoes, broccoli, peas and Swiss chard, among other items, find a home in her garden.

Though she grows sweet corn and potatoes, they are not the focus or bumper crop for her fundraiser, but are reserved for her family.

"There is a farm by Harmony that raises sweet corn and I didn't want to take the business from them," she said.

For all the years she has been gardening, her plants seem to thrive, though she is not sure why they always do so well.

"Every plant does wonderful. I grew up gardening and don't use commercial fertilizer. My plants are natural, but not organic," she said.

If this experiment for the fundraiser works, she would be happy to expand the garden in the future.

"I want to know what people want and have no problem with going bigger," she added.

Storlie is passing on her love of gardening to her kids and other neighborhood kids who frequent her home. Each one helps out at tending the garden. They also benefit from the garden in an economic standpoint.

"We don't spend much, but the garden is worth a lot to me because it is not work," she said. "It's fun to see stuff grow and be able to feed my family from it. We eat year round off the garden and it saves us a lot of money."

But vegetables are not the only items available for buyers to obtain. They also have fresh farm eggs, salsa and tomato juice.

"I do canning as well. I will do salsa or tomato juice for people if they want me to. My tomato juice has a little celery in it and is a little more like V8," she added.

Storlie derived this fundraiser idea out of her love for gardening and her desire to do something good.

After moving on from her Amish lifestyle 14 years ago, she worked full-time at the cheese factory in Spring Valley for many years. While she worked full-time and was raising her family, she often had the desire to be involved in this type of activity. The only problem was that she found there was just not enough time.

For two years, Storlie has been a stay-at-home-mom raising her two kids, 13-year-old Victoria and 9-year-old Jerome. Six months passed and she contacted Lavonne Mensink about the Relay For Life.

"I knew nothing about Relay For Life before getting involved with it. I just read about it in the paper and saw it was a good thing to get involved with. It only took one phone call," she stated.

Relay For Life did have a special meaning for her, however. Cancer has also infiltrated her family. Her grandmother died of cancer many years ago and her uncle has cancer as well.

"I had not really realized how high the numbers are of people with cancer. But it feels good to know we are doing something good," Storlie said. "If I could live in the world and give all my stuff away, I would."

If this fundraiser holds any interest for area residents, Storlie would be happy to accommodate them and their produce needs. Though she may deliver the produce to anyone who orders if she is going in that direction, she would prefer those who order to come pick up their vegetables.

"People can call ahead of time so I can have the stuff ready for a quick stop, or they can come and help me get it together. I am willing to work with working moms since I am a stay-at-home-mom. They can call or even text me if necessary," she stated.

Since produce does grow at different rates, it would be good to contact her to know what is ready. Peas could be ready within a few weeks, providing the recent weather did not destroy the blossoms.

All the money raised will go to the Relay For Life, before and after the Relay takes place on July 11. For those who want to order from Storlie, contact her at (507) 951-4005 or email her at storebergvj@yahoo.com. To pick up the products, her address is 15623 County 9, Preston, MN 55965.