What is one thing about your work that most people don't know?
Farming is hard, everyone knows that, and the hours are longer than a lot of other jobs. There is a certain rhythm of daylength and seasons that makes the hardships of cold, hot, wet outdoor work bearable along with the absolute beauty of sky, soil, plants and people that makes the farm the center of the universe. The micro world of soil particles and bacteria is intriguing and so is the impact of the overall operation on the people in surrounding states and how intertwined we all are. Farming is so unpredictable, the weather is always changing. Even so I think a lot of farmers do it because of the challenge. They are optimists.
What makes you most proud of the work you do?
There is a feeling of accomplishment when you raise one tomato plant from seed to fruit (then do thousands of plants) and then match the customer to the kinds of tomatoes they like. Speaking with customers in their own languages make them feel like they are welcome and part of the process. The Pick Your Own draws all kinds of folks, from Facebook gals looking for the fresh new diet veg, to young couples with kids finding ways to teach them about how food grows, older folks wanting a chat with their food, to all kinds of immigrants looking for a taste of home. Sometimes they bring me seeds to try out too. I plant about 40 kinds of tomatoes, heirlooms and classics. We grow about 150 kinds of veggies, the boys direct seed a lot of cukes, zukes, greens and beans, I seed about 40 thousand cole crops and then they transplant them after the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. This is a small operation, one family and a few friends. We plant, folks harvest and then stop at the scale house to weigh and pay for their veg. I like that it is fairly local, and I get to know our customers. I love the family that owns the farm. They care for the land and value farming for itself. They let me teach kids in a 4-H garden. I also keep our 4-H pasture raised chickens there. What a joy. I have been working on this farm for more than half my life.