The farm is on the downward slide for the season and the crops that are still in the ground are growing slowly, due to cooler weather and less sunlight. Since labor is the farm’s highest cost it was time for the farm staff to transition into the kitchens for the winter. Labor is one of the biggest problems we struggle with financially and physically. I have been so fortunate in previous years to have great help but that consisted of chefs who had a place to go in the fall when service started back up. This presented a problem because fall is also the busiest time of year for the farm. As the farm continues to grow it was imperative to find another full time person who was flexible during the winter months and a couple reliable part time people who could work during the busy season. It is also key to be able to retain the good help so that we don’t have to start over at the beginning of each season, which has been the case thus far. I have been in the hospitality industry for a long time and finding good help is always hard. These jobs, especially farm work, are physically demanding while being exposed to the elements; rain, dirt, heat, bugs, humidity and eventually cold. It is definitely not for everyone. I feel incredibly lucky to have met and worked side by side with the three wonderful people who helped this year. Not only were they hardworking but they were an absolute pleasure to be around. We had a lot of laughs and it made hard work fun.
Unfortunately I do not have a picture of Rey, our part timer who got us through the busy season. We were fortunate enough to find him through another local farm called Prairie Fruits Farms. Rey was flexible with his schedule, helping us only on peak harvest days, which made him an excellent match with us. From the moment he stepped out into the field he worked hard and was up for anything. He is a phenomenal baker so he would also shower us with gifts of fresh bread and PFF cheese. We will definitely be seeing more of him next year if he is still available.
Terrin was our other part time/ full timer. He started part time for us and then switched to full time during the peak season. Terrin is Justin’s best friend (I will talk about Justin later). I hope that every business has someone like Terrin working for them. He is one of those people who is like a magnet, drawing people to him with his positive attitude and constant quick lines and jokes. He reminds you that life doesn’t have to be taken so seriously and the small stuff can be laughed off. Terrin wasn’t afraid of hard work and getting dirty, coming in at the end of the day covered in head to toe in mud and yet still smiling. He was instantly missed after his last day and I look forward to 2017 when he comes back.
I saved Justin for last because he was the key component for a successful 2016 growing season. When you work in a kitchen it is a must that you be able to flow and “dance” with your coworkers, working closely on a line together. Although we are not in as tight of a space as a kitchen, that could be applied to working on the farm as well. Justin and I have similar philosophies when it comes to work; be dedicated, work hard and love what you do. It didn’t take long for Justin to become invested in the farm as his own and able to have vision and interest for the future. Besides being reliable and hardworking, Justin was able to anticipate all of my moves staying one step ahead of me while rocking out to Van Halen and sporting his Steelers hoodie. He was literally my right hand. At some point in the middle of the season we didn’t have to speak words to communicate because he already knew and could anticipate what I was going to say. I have only worked with a few people in my lifetime where we were able to “flow” like this and it is like finding a double yolk in an egg. It is rare and lucky. Because we were able to work like this it freed me up to focus on other areas, knowing that he would not take short cuts and do what I needed him to do the right way. Justin moved into the kitchens last Friday for winter and will be back at the farm next spring. His absence has been felt in just a few short days and he is already greatly missed.
Thank you Justin, Terrin and Rey for everything and making the 2016 growing season smooth, stress free and successful. I can’t wait for winter to come and go!!