Good old Wally Hibbard has never known a springtime without an sparagus harvest. His father, Ernest, planted the first asparagus in North Hadley in 1910 and soon became one of the valley's biggest producers. The fungus shriveled the Hibbards' crop from 40 acres down to just six, but the family refused to give up. While visiting in March of 2001, Hibbard showed me his newest asparagus bed, a one-acre plot hiding 7,000 baby root crowns—Jersey King hybrids—grown from seed the summer before. It would take three more years of careful tending to yield a full harvest of asparagus, he explained, and with luck the crowns would produce for eight, maybe ten years. Hibbard, who now farms a total of 16 acres of grass, would be well into his 90s by the time this field was generating a profit, but this did not concern him. "My father lived until he was 98," he told me, "and was at the farm almost every day, so I think I have time left. Besides, someone's got to grow asparagus."