I can hardly believe it, but 2018 marks Tom’s and my 30th year of growing and selling produce. What a journey it has been. We started with nothing but our home farm, and with no tractors or equipment. Our knowledge of growing vegetables came from what Tom had learned from his dear friend and farming mentor, Winfield Mitchell, on Snake Lane.
We naively started farming with Tom growing 2 acres of sweet corn, and me, 50 tomato plants. Each year, it got bigger, with more fruits and vegetables and larger quantities. We constantly read vegetable growing journals and went to many conferences. And we talked to other farmers. Tom also had an off farm job as an engineer at APG, and in the early years, I taught at the college. Those jobs helped provide the capital to buy equipment and supplies, for I don’t think we could have started from scratch without it. Needless to say, we lived frugally.
During these 30 years, there were ups and downs. Tom and I have been blessed with being able to work well together (most of the time!), and realized that each has his/her strengths and weaknesses. We divide the jobs accordingly and each knows and respects the fact that we couldn’t do this without the other. I often say that we have never been at a loss for conversation. Of course, we’ve had our share of disagreements, the biggest one being over the quality of tomatoes!
We got to know our community better by interacting with them during the season. Churchville, and the greater area of Harford County has so many good people. We can never thank the small development of Rolling Green for giving us a chance when we first started and stopping at our little cart along the side of Rt. 136. Though many of our original customers from that development have moved or passed on, we will never forget their kindness.
During this time, our two sons, David and Daniel were born. For better or for worse, they have grown up in this business. Tom and I often worry whether this has been good for them. There were very few vacations, since we couldn’t leave the farm in the summer vacation months. They did participate in sports, scouts, and had lots of good friends. But much of the time was spent on the farm. Tom and I hope that maybe they have learned a good work ethic by helping on the farm and watching their parents.
Farming has become far more complicated in the last 30 years. Insect and disease pressure is far greater than when we started. But the main pest has been the incessant and persistent interference of the government. So many regulations have taken the pleasure out of farming, making it difficult to actually enjoy the growing process.
That being said, I wouldn’t trade the last 30 years for anything. Being able to work side by side with my husband has been a blessing, and to work with the land and grow vegetables and flowers to make people happy, tops it off.