Ivor man, family find their place in eco-biological farming

Published 9:09 am Friday, August 29, 2014

Merle Monahan/Contributing Writer

IVOR—Leroy “Lee” Hardy Jr. tried several professions before he found exactly what he wanted — eco-biological farming.

Leroy Hardy and his wife, Nancy of Ivor -- MERLE MONAHAN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Leroy Hardy and his wife, Nancy of Ivor — MERLE MONAHAN | TIDEWATER NEWS

“It’s perfect,” he said. “It is something the entire family can be involved in, and of course we already had the land.”

Hardy and his family grow vegetables and flowers without chemicals or pesticides on their small farm near Ivor on Rte. 616. The produce is sold in season at the Smithfield Farmer’s Market.

“We believe the vegetables are healthier and for us, certainly more economical to raise.”

Hardy, 52, was born and raised by his mother and her family on the family farm he lives on. He attended Franklin schools and graduated from Norfolk State University with a degree in electronics technology.

He said his first job was in engineering at the Newport News Shipyard. But this wasn’t exactly what Hardy wanted, he said, so he began to try other jobs.

“I worked as a mental health professional at Norfolk Community Hospital and at the Pines, a mental health treatment center.

“I also taught in several capacities at the Pruden Center in Suffolk. I have been a Special Ed teacher, a night school instructor, after school tutor and in the juvenile justice system, I worked with troubled kids.

“I also worked in conjunction with Virginia State University as a specialty crop agent.”

Hardy and his wife, Nancy, started the flower/vegetable farm in 2006, he added, and so far, have been very satisfied.

“It has been profitable and rewarding,” he went on, “and the perfect place to raise our kids.”

Hardy shares some of the responsibility of homeschooling their eight children — four of whom have graduated ­ — with his wife, Nancy, as she also works as a dental hygienist in Franklin. Nancy, in turn, takes care of the flower growing, with the help of their children, Hardy said with a smile.

“We have a big, close family,” Hardy added. “That is something I’ve always valued, I suppose, because I was an only child.”

Although Hardy, who was raised by his grandparents and aunts along with his mother, has no siblings, he has relatives that most people would be envious of. His great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side was Benjamin Hicks, who invented the first peanut picker.

On his father’s side, he is part Nottoway Indian and belongs to the Nottoway Tribe of Virginia of which Lynette Allston is chief.

His Indian heritage is something that he is involved with on a daily basis, he said.

“We have a Community Meeting House in Capron and conduct meetings monthly.”

Hardy added that he is a councilman and a spiritual leader of the tribe.

He revealed that he is qualified to be a spiritual leader because he is a licensed, ordained First Nations minister. The tribe numbers over 100, he added.

NAME: Leroy “Lee” Hardy Jr.

AGE: 52.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was born and raised here.

OCCUPATION: Eco-biological farmer:

HOMETOWN: Franklin.

MARITAL STATUS: Married to Nancy Fulton Hardy.

CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND AGES: We have eight children. Astrid Carter, 32, a registered nurse, Joshua, who is 23 and a certified automotive technician, Daniel, 21, and Stephen, 19, who are landscapers, twins Bethany and Kristen, 16,  Alisa, 14, and Aaron, 11. All our children are homeschooled.

FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: A trip to China Buffet with my wife.

FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: A Zero’s tuna sub and root beer.

FAVORITE RESTAURANT: The Great Wall in Franklin.

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in electronics technology from Norfolk State University.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I love to talk to people and make friends easily.

PETS: We have two mixed hunting dogs and two cats. The dogs are named Cheetos and Mr. Fwapples and the cats are Hypie and Pocoyo.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: Procrastination.

HOBBIES: I love oral history, auctions and sports, especially motor sports.

PET PEEVE: Injustice.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As someone who cared and tried to make a difference wherever I could.

IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would talk about the importance of family and community. Both should be nurtured and maintained. Today, families are spread out over the country and people grow up in a community, leave and seldom come back. People should never forget their roots, but stick together and help each other. It would make a difference.