'Godsend for the garden'
Family: Wife, Lonnie, and two adult sons, Luke and Jesse
Job: Retired from working 31 years at the Chrysler plant in Belvidere. "When I started there, I was 18," Haseman said. "I thought I'd work there two or three years and then go back to school."
His favorite place to work: The Japanese and Alpine gardens at Rotary Gardens. "When your back's aching and you're tired, it's very therapeutic."
People from history he'd like to have dinner with: Thomas Jefferson.
"He doesn't get enough credit for the food that we eat today," Haseman said. Jefferson introduced food items from all over the world, including vanilla and macaroni.
Abraham Lincoln is another one of his choices. "I'd like to know what his life was like when he was younger, when he was living in a log cabin."
Awards: Haseman won the Louise Abrahams Yaffe award in 2006 for his work as an ombudsman at Rock Haven.
His least favorite meal: Pigs' ear sandwiches. When some of the inmates told him how good pigs' ear sandwiches were, Lyle Yaun of RECAP and Haseman agreed to cook them for the RECAPers who worked in the community garden. Neither man could find words to describe how nasty they were.
Something you might not know about him: He's a painter. Also, when he was younger, he and his wife, Lonnie, used to break horses.
People who inspired him: His grandmother Pearl Griffus and his grandmother Welch.
Music: "I really like ballads—stuff like Johnny Horton."
JANESVILLE When Jim Haseman was a boy, he spent summers on his grandmother's farm in Vernon County.
His day started about 4:30 a.m. with milky coffee and oatmeal. Then, after milking and all the other farm chores were done, he and his grandmother worked in the garden until it got too warm.
"I remember her saying, 'This stuff is going to taste so good this winter,'" Haseman said.
After working for more than three decades at the Chrysler Plant in Belvidere, Ill., Haseman returned to a life of gardening and service to the elderly.
Haseman, 56, routinely puts in more than 1,000 hours as a master gardener volunteer. He also works with the RECAP program at the county jail garden and in the community and is an award-winning volunteer ombudsman at Rock Haven, Rock County's nursing home.
Haseman's motto: "You can get a lot done if you if you don't care who gets the credit."
That means he doesn't advertise his successes.
But plenty of other people are willing to talk about them.
Mike Maddox, Rotary Gardens and UW Extension horticulture educator, has a love-exasperation relationship with Haseman.
"He's not highly organized, but he's a go-getter," Maddox said. "He'll jump in with both feet, and sometimes I'm just trying to catch up with him."
But Maddox admitted that Haseman's energy "pushed me to get a lot of programs going."
Haseman was the first president of the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association and helped start the association's rain barrel program.
"It's because of him that those rain barrels are all over the state and Northern Illinois," Maddox said.
Haseman's work at the jail garden transformed the half-acre plot from a patchy project into a successful venture.
Lyle Yaun of RECAP described him as a "godsend" for the garden.
"He's really made it a lot more than what it was when we started," Yaun said.
Produce from the garden is given to ECHO and Rock Haven and is sometimes used at the jail.
Haseman's genial manner, ready smile and pleasantly sunburned face conceal a no-nonsense supervisory style that earns the inmates' respect.
During last summer's flooding, Haseman worked alongside RECAPers filling sandbags.
"I asked for help in the garden, and Lyle said, 'Well, we're trying to save some people's houses in Newville, and I think that's more important than radishes,'" Haseman said.
Rock Haven residents get to see another side of Haseman.
"He is very calm and very patient," said Sherry Gunderson, nursing home administrator. "He is devoted to Rock Haven."
He spends a lot of time just listening—during resident council or health and human services committee meetings or medical in-services. Mostly, however, he listens to residents one-on-one.
Haseman also makes sure that the flower and vegetable beds near the center are cared for—either by RECAP workers or other volunteers.
Like his grandmother, he knows that nothing tastes better than vegetables fresh from the garden.