- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) - For the last nine years, Mike and Jovi Ady lived a 4G-priority life: Golf, Gardening, God and Grandchildren.

Spend any quality time with them - especially on Saturdays - and you’ll quickly realize that a fifth G, great-grandchildren, appears well within reach.

Saturdays are farming days. They have gardened and farmed every Saturday - barring trips or special occasions - for about 18 years.

God gives them faith. Golf offers exercise. The Grands give them purpose.

Gardening? That’s their time to play and have fun, two nature lovers feeding a passion to sprout, nurture and flourish.

Years of gardening together strengthens their marriage. It made them better as people, parents and neighbors.

They are convinced that it made them better golfers too, as both have a hole-in-one to their name.

“Gardening, farming - it’s just something they always did. It gave them quality time together to bond. And I think it made them less grumpier,” says their son Robert, already laughing. “I’m kidding. You guys aren’t grumpy!”

Then he pauses and flashes his toothy, happy smile, glancing adoringly at mom and dad.

“I have really good parents.”

At 27, Rob is a multi-talented man with plenty going on. He shows up to his parents’ house with laundry, asking them what they were doing home on a beautiful Saturday. They laugh at the familiar weekend joke.

Rob readily admits he didn’t like doing yard work growing up. He remembers them clearing boonies and planting pretty plants around the house. The clearings got larger and longer, and after a few years, he’d see the occasional harvest of calamansi and mango.

“But things kind of transformed last year. There was more fruit. More kinds,” he says, chomping into a nearby banana. “Wow, this is really good. So creamy. They call it the ice cream banana? I can see why. Mom, where did you get this?”

“It grew right here, son,” says Jovi.

The couple uses their fingers to count silently, and quickly runs out of fingers. Mike starts:

“We’ve got five-six varieties of mango, kudos to Uncle Manny Cruz who gave us our first. We’ve got citrus fruits: calamansi, lime, lemon, honey tangerines and pomelo. There’s three kinds of avocado, eight types of banana and four different papayas,” he says, his weathered face hearty and hale.

Jovi adds fragrant basils and other herbs, a Chamorro apple tree laden with ‘mansanan potaki,’ a breadfruit and mulberry tree, hot peppers, sineguelas, a productive pumpkin patch and probably more that she can’t recall. Then she frowns and points at her laguana, the island favorite fruit tree known as sour sop. It is healthy, but barren.

And her son Robert was right. Things changed last year. After hundreds of Saturdays of clearing, growing and the occasional harvest, even despite a typhoon - everything bloomed and produced. They picked to exhaustion, harvesting more than they could eat, more than their neighbors could eat, more than they could even give away.

Once, they lugged around a cooler full of limes, maybe to sell it but happy to give it away so it wouldn’t waste.

“We brought it to PROA Restaurant and they said ‘Sure, we’ll take it. How much?’ But we never thought about what to charge,” says Mike. “I think we settled on a dollar a pound. We never cashed their check though. We kept it. Fifty-nine dollars! Our first sale.”

They registered as farmers, opening up a world of resources and education. They connected with local organization Farm to Table, which connects growers to the consumers hungry for local harvests. They would pick up the 20 pumpkins sitting in the corner of their enclosed patio.

Those are just a few of the many more picked from the pumpkin patch, started with five seeds on a rectangle measuring 150 by 50 feet. After a month, they ate pumpkin tips - puntan kalamasa in Chamorro - every day for weeks, and still pick more for the family.

Once, they made enough cash on a 150-pound harvest to pay for some Friday fun - lunch, golf and . more potting soil. They realized the potential.

“But we are a sharing, caring family,” says Jovi. “Before we sell anything, first we share. With family. With anybody, really, who wants and we have. People seldom leave here empty-handed.”

The bounty is a bonus to Mike, who sees farming as soul therapy. He’s sure that anyone sick - even veterans with PTSD - gets healthier when they eat what they’ve grown. It continues to keep their family healthy. And farming melts away stress, he’ll say to anyone.

As certified farmers, they get benefits such as a reduced water rate and matching funds to buy tools and build fences. But to stay farmers, the USDA requires them to turn a profit.

“Eventually we’ll have a market rate and family rate. We’ll explain that we need to make money so we can keep on farming, keep producing,” says Mike.

With such a bounty resulting from farming just one day a week, the couple can’t wait to spend even more days farming. They live a semi-retired life as the founders of M80 Systems, which grew as well as the farm has. They golf at least twice a week, shooting scores that don’t matter. Exercise, fun and good company mean most.

They’d love it if the farm paid for golf. They’d love to eventually grow every fruit tree in Guam at Camp Witek, maybe offer tours. They not-so-secretly hope that their son and talented chef Toby Shimizu and his beautiful family relocate to Guam. He could open a restaurant and serve everyone from his own farm. It makes a great backup plan should Guam’s food imports cease.

“Anyone can do what we’ve done. It doesn’t have to be this big; it doesn’t have to have everything,” says Mike. “If more people grew, we could reduce our dependency on things like rice and processed stuff, and get healthier. Grow something. Start small. But start. Get out and do it.”

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