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Davon Crest Farm Open House


Cathal Armstrong
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Meshelle circulated the following note to some press after my staff and I went out to help our friend at his farm. Don Rockwell heard of it and suggested I post about his fate. I have included some photos.

Sunday at dawn after completing a very demanding Saturday night shift, Chef Armstrong Chef/owner of Restaurant Eve-Old Town Alexandria and 10 of his kitchen and wait staff gathered to drive towards the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where David & Sharon Lankford-A local farmer and his wife awaited their arrival.

David Lankford grows 75% of Restaurant Eve’s herbs and produce. David Lankford is critical to these handful of Restaurants: Maestro, Equinox, Galileo, Palena, Vidalia, Colvin Run Tavern, Cashion’s Eat Place. as he also supplies them with much of the same goods. (Is your favorite restaurant among these?)

Without David Lankford, the basil you eat would not be so green, the carrots not so rich and the corn not so sweet. He is a pioneer, an innovator and the first to grow the sweetest of strawberries in winter. Fine dining Restaurants depend so very much on supreme quality of goods, so they may in turn pass this on to you, The Dining Consumer.

The landowner has sold and David & Sharon must leave. And take with them 11 Massive Greenhouses, one of which the size of a football field-And he must do it immediately.

Eve’s staff, and a week before Maestro’s staff, in an effort to help; Dismantle countless yards of seed gutters, hauled hundreds of pounds of earth, driving and carrying the precious cargo of herbs and this fall’s produce to the new farm, all to lend a hand to their farmer to try and defray at least 2 days worth of costs. “No one could ever imagine a green house to be so big,” said Ricky-one of the Staff members. “And we are going to breakdown one?”

“If I had 100 men, it would take a month.” Said Lankford. (When my husband returned home exhausted, said, “Honey…now he only needs 75 men and 28 days ”)

Other restaurant friends have also offered to help. It’s nice to know that we too have charity in our own back yard. If anyone would care to lend a hand and meet the farmer partially responsible for so many wonderful dinners that you may have had. Please contact-Chef Armstrong at Restaurant Eve so he may place you in touch with the Lankfords.

“It is our duty to reach out for the small farmers. They are one of the key players in the fine dining world. “…Chef Armstrong

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Kudos to Eve and Maestro for helping the Lankfords undertake such a large project!  Perhaps we could get a group of Rockwellians together for a weekend to help (this weekend perhaps?) 

Cathal, how long do the Lankfords have to complete the move?

I would hope we could get a decent size group together. Anyone want to coordinate the effort? I would love to but just cannot give that much time right now.

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I would love to help - i work at a restaurant, so the timing might be difficult, but if you let me know the date and time, i'll figure it out. i'll try to recruit some of my coworkers as well...

also, I don't have a car, so is there anyone driving out there from the district who will let me hitch a ride?

i believe the connection between earth - farm - restaurant - consumer is vital and i would be happy to help an important part of that chain

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We are leaning toward this Saturday, Sept. 24th. I hope to have more specific information for everyone shortly. Travel arrangements will be included as part of the process.

Thank you to those who have responded thus far. When all the logistics have been setup and posted, I hope that more of you will be able to donate a few hours to help with this very worthy cause.

-Pat

Edited by Camille-Beau
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WANTED: A large group of able-bodied folks willing to put in a few hours of hard work for a very worthy cause.

Please note that this description may contain some small discrepancies in detail and is repetitive of some of Cathal's posting above but will give you an overall idea of the project:

The work that needs to be done at the Lankford farm involves the dismantling and moving of several large greenhouses plus all of the plants & shelving and miscellaneous items inside each greenhouse from the current farm location to the new one approximately 4 miles away. There are 11 very large greenhouses, one for each different type of herb/vegetable (the photos from Cathal's post give you some idea of the size). The Restaurant Eve crew moved the Basil greenhouse last Sunday. According to Cathal, the team left DC at 8am and arrived at the old Lankford farm around 9:30am on the Eastern Shore of MD. They worked on the Basil house until 9pm Sunday night and dismantled and moved the greenhouse & plants in 2 trips. Cathal rented a 24' flatbed truck to use for the transfer, along with his own Suburban/trailer combination and David Lankford's pickup truck/trailer and van (that has no shocks...). We'll take care of renting the truck this time and will use our SUV, but don't have a trailer. If any of you have a truck/trailer, please let me know if you'll have it with you this weekend. The trip from one location to the other takes about 40 minutes due to the winding country roads of the Eastern Shore.

That being said, we are now truly asking for your help. If we get enough people I would considering hiring a bus or large vans to transport everyone to the location. The Lankford farm is located 6635 Pine Top, Hurlock MD which is 6 miles south of Easton on the Eastern Shore. This will be very hard work but very rewarding. The Lankfords have two workers and cannot afford to hire day laborers to help with this move. They are technically supposed to be off of the property today so time is the enemy at this point. We plan to offer help for next weekend as well (Saturday, October 1st) so if you cannot make it on the 24th please let me know and we can form a second team for next weekend.

RECOMMENDED ITEMS:

Sturdy shoes - preferably work boots

Work gloves (I'll bring a few extra pairs)

Change of clothes -- and wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty

Lunch

I'll bring water/sodas but feel free to bring anything you might like to have.

Please PM/email me only if you can work either this Saturday or next. Please let me know if you can provide transportation and if so, for how many people. Also let me know if you need a ride out there and back so we can make the necessary arrangements. Depending on the response, I will let you know if we hire transportation. Please let me know as soon as possible so that we can get an accurate headcount.

MANY THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!!

-Pat and Barry

Edited by Camille-Beau
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I heard from Fabio Trabocchi of Maestro, whose kitchen was there for the move just a week ago. "Every restaurant should help David," he said.

Sometimes, helping out your neighbor involves writing a check; this time it involves physical labor. Who's up for the effort?

Rocks.

Even if you're not a member of this website, please email me at DonRocks@DonRockwell.com if you're interested in lending a hand Saturday.

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We'd also love to help but will be out of town Sat. through Mon. -- is there anything those of us who will be there in spirit but not the flesh can do?

How about next Saturday, October 1? If anyone can't make it for this Saturday, please let either me or Rocks know if next Saturday works for you. I'm sure there will still be plenty of work to do and it will be an interesting topic of conversation for the picnic on the 2nd :lol:

Timing will be something like -- Arrival by 10am and departure around 7-8pm

Thanks again for those of you who have responded. The details will be sent to you via PM as soon as we know who/how many will be there and what the transportation needs are.

-Pat

Edited by Camille-Beau
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The following Rockwellians have offered their time for this Saturday:

Porcupine

Jacques Gastreaux

mktye

Crackers

Tweaked

Meaghan

Shogun

Camille-Beau (there are two of us)

The plan is to get there by 10am latest and work til about 8pm. Some folks need to leave by 4pm so they are ride-sharing. (still working on coordinating other rides, but will let the relevant parties know)

Any other volunteers? It would be great to have at least 10 people there.

Edited by Camille-Beau
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What do I have to do in order to get more people out to help?

I'll write a poem about anyone who goes who hasn't already volunteered.

Example:

Mike Ollinger

in a vein attempt

to show us that

his distant pa

was shot by

Billy The Kid

decided to dig

up his dead

great grandfather

and fuck his

eye socket

searching in vain

for some sort of

sign that the man

succumbed to bullet

rather than bullshit

yeah, that's

what he did.

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See, this is the kind of compelling original content you just don't get with a lot of other food sites.

PS: Maybe those of us who can't pitch in physically could help out with a little green, if someone in a position of semi-authority could organize a whip-round?

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Many thanks to all of you for responding positively to this situation, regardless of whether or not you can be at the farm tomorrow. This request was solely meant as a way to get a few people together to help the Lankfords move their farm. If you can't actually go to the farm either this weekend or next, that is totally fine. If you can, then great.

I do want to stress that the Lankfords did NOT ask for any help whatsoever. They have been working to do this themselves while at the same time maintaining business as usual by harvesting and delivering products to all of their restaurant customers. This move just happens to be different than simply moving from one house to another since they are taking the buildings with them.

Thanks for your cotinued interest in this project.

Edited by Camille-Beau
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See, this is the kind of compelling original content you just don't get with a lot of other food sites.

PS: Maybe those of us who can't pitch in physically could help out with a little green, if someone in a position of semi-authority could organize a whip-round?

Sounds good to me -- anyone in authority able to help? At the very least, we can chip in toward the cost of fuel!

[ETA: Ooops...triple spaced!]

Edited by Walrus
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Any way we are able to help Mr. Lankford in order for him to continue to do what he is doing it is crucial. Thanks to him restaurants such as ours can consistently provide our guests his wonderful products. Mr. Lankford is not only a great farmer in love with his creation but also a wonderful person. It is always a pleasure to work with him and will continue to do so hereafter.

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Per David Lankford, the following things need to be done:

- Continued work on taking down greenhouses

- Moving more plants to the new location, specifically the thyme and the lettuces

- Moving a variety of equipment, pots, miscellaneous stuff to the new location

- Disassembling the gutters for the very large greenhouse. David says he is always interested in crews that can help with this project since it requires the use of a cordless drill & Phillips-head screwdrivers to take the gutters apart.

He noted that the corn was just cleared from the new location where the greenhouses will be so they can now start the process of mapping out the locations for them, always a reminder that they are moving while continuing 'business as usual'

I am sending directions and contact information to everyone signed up for tomorrow.

See you there!

Edited by Camille-Beau
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I am now accepting donations for the Lankford farm through my Paypal account. If you have that email address you can send funds by clicking on Send Money. If you do not have that address send me an email and I will send it to you.

Please send the money as Quasi Cash. Don't forget that PayPal adds a service fee so you should add a couple of dollars to your donation to cover that fee.

In the title of the email please put Lankford Farm Donation. In the text of your email please let me know your screen name and real name so I can keep track of who the money is coming from.

I am working on adding another email to the account that I will post on the board in case any nonmembers would like to contribute. In the mean time you can contact me via PM.

I will also accept donations at the picnic next weekend but those details are still being worked out.

Thank you for your donations. I know they will be greatly appreciated and put to good use.

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Restaurant Eve and all of it's employees are beyond grateful for the outpouring of charity for a single entity that impacts us so significantly. Without people like David we could not possibly offer the product we do. You have made a major leap into our world and your generosity will be met with the same advantages that we offer to our esteemed coleagues within the industry. I thank you. I thank you. With the utmost respect.

Sincerely,

Cathal.

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I am now accepting donations for the Lankford farm through my Paypal account.  If you have that email address you can send funds by clicking on Send Money.

Thanks for setting this up, HV. The Shorter family can't be there in person but we are happy to make a cash contribution.

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Just wanted to say how nice it was to meet those of you who were at the farm today, after months of lurking on this forum.

For anyone thinking of helping at future events - David Lankford is a very interesting and personable man, and Sharon fed us venison burgers. It was a pleasure helping them (even without the burgers).

Edited by porcupine
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back from the trenches...or I should say gutter. The Lankford farm is truly an impressive operation and story that I don't have enough knowledge to tell...but without help the Lankford farm is in serious jeapordy. The farm has probably 12 greenhouses in various stages of dismantling, the biggest greenhouse is an acre big! We helped finish dismantling one and then helped transport some of the most delicious smelling and tasting thyme to the new farm. All the plants are grown in a raised gutter system which when fully operational recycles pretty much everything for maximun nutrition and flavor. even after putting in 5 hours of solid work we only made a small dent in what needs to be done. Yet what we accomplished Dave said would take him and his 2 helpers 2 days to complete. The man is not only moving his entire farming operation, he is also making 5 trips to DC a week to deliver produce to his customers, a 2 hour trip from his farm to DC. one way. And to make matters more dire, he needs to have most of his new farm operational by October 15 in time for the first frost.

Dave Lankford gave us a tour of the operation and it truly is impressive. The next time you go to Restaurant eve, maestro, galileo, cityzen, zaytinya, jaleo, Inn at Easton, Poste, (he supplies about 15 restaurants in DC) and see micro greens, taste intense herbs (he grows probably 8 different types of rosemary, at least 5 different types of thyme, is experimenting with growing the only fresh bay leaves around), have beautiful salad greens, robust out of season strawberries, odds are it came from the Lankford farm. Dave said he grows about 100 different products.

and to top it all off, the Lankfords are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! Any help we at Donrockwell.com can give will be greatly appreciated.

any spelling errors due to crappy keyboard and exhaustion!

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You know? I realized something on the ride home: The word 'thyme', vis a vis, Thymus Vulgaris, or the particular herb we moved today (if Wikipedia and myself are not much mistaken), and 'time', i.e., the popularly accepted term for the concept of progression of entropy throughout the Universe, sound very much alike. They are, in fact, homophones! It is not yet a complete concept, but I posit the existance of phrases wherein 'thyme' and 'time' may be use ambigously. Example: "T{hy|i}me is not on our side here." "T{hy|i}me waits for no man." "If you're lost you can look and you will find me - t{hy|i}me after t{hy|i}me." I think there's real potential here. Too bad that didn't occur to us at the actual thyme (HA!) of the event!

I had a great time today: Got outside, had some fun, got some work done, and hopefully made some small difference. For everybody thinking about maybe going next week: Go! You'll have fun. It's hard work, but it's very satisfying. The operation is seriously impressive, too. The Lankfords have farming on lockdown! It's really something to hear about and see.

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I love manual labor, lifting stuff, getting dirty, smelling like the earth.

It's been a long time since I've done my penance for under-celebrating some of the food I'm eating. I've forgotten how good it is to do work from the heart instead of the e-mail box.

Some of the best work I've ever done has been on a farm, lifting crates of peaches, pallets and pallets of melons and sweating like crazy...dust and dirt and fuzz and pulp and all this other crap on you and everywhere. I saw people happy, though, as they'd bite into a tomato like an apple, juice dripping down their chin and the side of their wrist.

I spent 3 or 4 summers between high school and college selling local produce on the side of the road. All the staples you can imagine: berries, peaches, corn, melons, tomatoes, plums, nectarines...and then apples, pumpkins, and crazy gourds.

But rarely ever any herbs, rooty vegetables or salad greens because those truly need more love and care; they're more delicate and it's just too hard to keep them at their best in the 90 degree sun.

######

Today, I got a sense of what a huge difference these ingredients (the ones at David Lankford's Davon Crest Farms), these microgreens and all these natural seasonings, make in some of the creations I cannot live without.

When you walk around these greenhouses, tasting these edibles and think about your favorite kitchen without them, it will make you sad. Yes, there are other herbs and greens, but in such variety on the local horizon? David and Sharon are passionate and generous and they deserve to to keep their dream alive. I couldn't have felt more welcome or more appreciated today.

There is so much work that needs to be done, but every ounce helps. According to David, it costs about $80 to employ a laborer for a full day. So, put that into what ever terms you want, and if you think this is the kind of work that is rewarding, I highly recommend it. I had a great day with a great group of people, and I'd certainly do it again.

I won't lie, though, you'll be dying for a hot shower and a big cold beer the second you can have it. And in case there's traffic on the beltway, bring a shotgun. :lol:

Nah, maybe just beer would work.

When I came home and took a nice long shower, I decided that it was inappropriate to reach for the rosemary thyme mimosa bath gel, and reached for the good old, unscented bar of dove instead. :P

Edited by Meaghan
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Thyme Out.Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_030.jpg

Nothing better than a day of fresh air, exercise and lending a helping hand on the farm. I don't think any of us was prepared for the magnitude of this undertaking. Clearly it is going to take a Herculean effort to move all the beautiful specimens and all the physical plant and equipment in time. None of us will ever forget the difference between English thyme (for garnishing) and French thyme (for cooking) -French_Thyme____Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_010.jpg the smell was intoxicating as we pulled up meter after meter of rich loamy soil thick with a tangle of thyme roots, before...Thyme_Out___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_003.jpg and after... Empty_Thyme_Gutters___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_009.jpg placed them on the truck, Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_028.jpg bucket brigade fashion, hauled it all down winding country roads in a caravan to their new home and placed them carefully back in their gutters. Putting_in_Thyme___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_011.jpg We broke for a late lunch of venison burgers with oh-so-fresh micro greens and salad,Lunch_yummies___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_022.jpg and a variety of the sweetest little tomatoes. Also some fine cheeses, pasta with pesto and lots of icy cold drinks. After a fascinating tour by Dave Lankford of the various greenhouses, and processing equipment Customers___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_024.jpgit was back to work for some, and back to the city for others. Hopefully next Saturday's crew will have the same great weather we did, and maybe they'll get to move the French thyme next time. And who knows, there may be a surprise or two in store for them too. You will get dirty, your car will get dusty, Windshield___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_021.jpg you will get thirsty, you will see and smell and taste beauty, and you will have an unforgettable experience. Tweaked___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_019.jpg Flats___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_013.jpgBasil_and_other_herbs___Devon_Crest_Farm_Day_9_24_05_014.jpgThanks Camille-Beau for organizing and the invisible one for a most interesting day.

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The All-Star Team

Lest there be any uncertainty, Rocks was there too!

Great photo essay, Crackers! Who knew such hard, dusty, wet, and dirty work could be so much fun and so satisfying! There isn't anything I can add that hasn't already been said so eloquently by Meaghan, Porcupine, Jacques Gastreaux, Tweaked, Crackers and Shogun. Beau and I had a great time, not only working with the Lankfords who are so gracious and deserving of support, but meeting the team who participated. You guys are awesome!

And now for one more Thyme, er, Time (yes, lame -- I know) :lol: :

If you are able to join next week's crew, please send a PM or Email and let me know if you need transportation. I have messages from a few of you so I'll be sending you directions and other info as the week progresses.

General idea still stands: Arrival at the Lankfords by 10am with departure around 7-8pm, depending on when we get the second delivery made (typical work days include two trips between the current location and the new one).

Thanks!

-Camille

Edited by Camille-Beau
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I think my eyes closed while my head was on the way down to the pillow last night. It's amazing what a full day of manny labor will do for one.

I must emphasize that the amount of physical work that remains to be done makes me tired just thinking about it. That "big house" has 50,000 linear feet of "gutter."

I encourage all of you that are strong of back and weak of mind to put your wallets back in your pockets and make the trek. I think we all learned a little something yesterday and the next time we look at a plate of food at one of Dave Lankford's clients, the memory of helping him relocate will come rushing back. I think 2 crews of 10 could probaby accomplish three times the work we were able to accomplish. We need to find a way to expand the pool of potential voluteers.

And I will note for the record that the man who is leasing Dave his new farm, Chuck, is a wonderful guy too, and his 4-year old son is a Chip off the old block.

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I am planning on heading to the farm next Saturday and can fit people in my vehicle if others from NoVA are planning on coming.

Do they need us to bring any tools?  Cordless drills, socket wrenches, etc.?

The largest greenhouse is the one with the 55,000' of gutters which will need to be disassembled and cut into shorter lengths (about 16' each) with an electric saw. That task requires the use of tools such as cordless drills with Philips-head bits. I'll get more details from David as to exactly what tools will be useful and will find out if we can coordinate a team for that greenhouse. David said it would require able-bodied souls who can handle the heavy lifting and who want to climb up on the framing as well.

More details to follow...

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Unfortunately, we're not going to be in town next weekend.  Is there a need for people the following weekend or is that too close to the move-date.

Yes. The first frost will probably come in mid-October, and the frost presents a more urgent problem than anything.

55,000 linear feet of gutter? That's 10 miles. And each foot of gutter filled with soil, water and plant weighs about 8 pounds.

See Cathal toiling on the farm.

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Unfortunately, we're not going to be in town next weekend.  Is there a need for people the following weekend or is that too close to the move-date.

I'm sure there will be a need for help for the next several weekends due to the volume of stuff to move. At this point we're set for Saturday Oct 1 and tentatively for the next couple of Saturdays after that (Oct 8, Oct 15), keeping the idea in mind that the first frost is anticipated around Oct 15 which adds to the urgency in getting things into greenhouses at the new location (not to mention just getting plants out of the wind, heavy rain and thunderstorms, all of which could happen any day). Columbus Day (Monday, Oct 10) was suggested as a possible work day -- a very good idea for those of you off work. I'll find out from David Lankford if Columbus Day would work for his schedule.

The interest shown by many of you for helping out continues to impress!

Back soon...

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Is there any productive work I could do (say, with a power drill) that wouldn't involve literal heavy lifting?

The spirit is willing, but the lower back is weak . . . .

I'm sure we can find many things that would be very beneficial to the move that would not cause, or exacerbate, any back problems. For anyone wanting joining the move, please do let us know if there are things you shouldn't be doing and we can work around those issues.

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October 1st trip to the farm:

The focus for this weekend will be the disassembly of the greenhouses, particularly the large one. That work includes, among other things, cutting the gutters with a power saw and using drills to remove screws holding the frames in place. I am expecting an update from David regarding what, if any, tools and equipment we should bring (goggles, etc.) I'll supply work gloves for anyone who needs them.

Venison burgers will be supplied by Sharon but feel free to bring along anything else you would like. Water and sodas (Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke, Pepsi, etc.) will be provided.

We still need volunteers to work at the farm. Here is the tentative list for this Saturday:

mdt

Mrs. B

LittleWing (plus 1)

ustreetguydc

camille-beau (2 total)

I have a couple of other interested parties who are not yet confirmed. If you are going and I neglected to put your name on the list, please send me a PM and I'll modify accordingly.

Thanks!

Edited by Camille-Beau
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