When Tom and I started growing produce, it was just he and I. Tom did the tractor work and pulled the corn. I picked the other vegetables in the morning and sold them from our red wagon by the side of the road. Things were pretty simple, though we worked very hard. Eventually, we decided that we needed some help in the field with things like weeding, driving tomato stakes and picking.
In March of 1995, our first son, David, was born. Tom always joked that we timed that pretty well, for I could be back in the fields by April. And I was. But I found it difficult to manage a baby all afternoon at the wagon. So we hired our first “stand” employee, Rachel. It was hard for me to relinquish the responsibility of taking care of our customers, but I soon discovered that I’m not indispensable! As a matter of fact, it opened the door to a long line of wonderful employees with whom I have been blessed to work. They have treated our customers far better than I could and taken care of the produce as though it was from their own farm.
The younger generation of employees, I fondly call “My Kids”. They have been a remarkable bunch and I grew to care for each of them as though they were my own. Their many accomplishments amaze me. They graduated from high schools throughout the county, then many went to college. Harford Community College, Virginia Tech, Penn State, University of Baltimore, University of Connecticut, University of Maryland, Towson University, Amherst, Villanova, and the University of Richmond School of Law are just some of the schools from which they have graduated. I’m even more impressed with their career paths. Aeronautical engineer, funeral director, teacher, nurse, statistician, food safety manager, landscape architect, social worker, sales manager, logistician, midwife and farmer, emergency response technician and director of compliance for a non-profit. In addition, several have been involved with our local fire companies and performed volunteer work. But most of all, they all worked hard and did their very best to treat customers the way they should be treated. I do have one complaint, though. Several have gotten married and now have children of their own. Boy, does that make me feel old!! But I am so proud of them as they start their new lives.
On the other hand, I have had a group of helpers whom I affectionately call, “My Moms”. They have been my support group during the long and sometimes stressful summer and fall seasons. They came from all sorts of backgrounds and former careers which I found fascinating. A medical lab manager, teachers, a nurse, an engineer, a budget manager, a Fed Ex driver, and even a lacrosse referee (on the national level). But more importantly, they were moms, people that I could talk to about raising children which was (is) our most important job. Also the most perplexing and difficult. The added bonus is that being moms, they were wonderful multi-taskers and did a marvelous job in the market. I will be forever grateful for our relationships and friendships.
Looking back through the years, I couldn’t have asked for better help and I look forward to the future of working with more young people and “Moms”.