"How many people does it take to run this place?" Usually it’s in the context of a farm tour, when they see row after row of ripe tomatoes, or cut flowers, or head lettuce, all clearly well tended and (most of the time) weed free; other times it’s as they look around at the bins full of high quality produce from asparagus to zucchini, and wonder aloud at how all of this can come out of only two acres of gardens. Or sometimes it’s looking at the mown lawn, twinkle lights, rustic water table, and delicious table full of pizza on Thursday pizza nights.
Whenever the question is asked, I always say it’s not an easy question to answer; on one hand, there are two full-time farmers out here; Kimby and I work the farm year-round. Anna tends the tomatoes, Emma trellises the cucumbers, Sarah is the master mind behind Pizza Club, and runs the marketing. Sarah and our family help with lots of different aspects of what we do, from picking cherry tomatoes and cutting flowers, to transplanting to preparing for pizza night. Our friend Ella delivers shares, Faith keeps the books, Eric, Barron, Mike, and others work with us a day a week, Chelsea arranges flowers, Becca and Ella and Rebecca help with harvest, and my mom and dad host a pick-up site at their Springfield home. David has been working with us for several years, and keeps the machinery running smooth. Additionally, we have two full time apprentices, Karissa, Jennae, who are here to learn while contributing to the farm. Finally, we host a variety of folks who help on the farm varying amounts of time, from an afternoon or morning a week, to a short term stay on the farm.
But the real answer to the question of how many people does it take to keep our farm going is more about quality than quantity. I have the privilege of working with some very intelligent, fun, considerate, and hard-working co-workers. The people who work on Millsap Farm make it a joy to start each day, whether that’s sweating through 97degrees and 80% humidity, or harvesting spinach at 35 degrees. We work, laugh, share, plan, and dream together, and it’s really the people on our farm that make the whole thing worth doing. It’s always good to remember that without a farmer, a farm is just a piece of land; it’s the care, work, and stewarding of the land by a farmer that turns it into a fruitful and productive landscape. When I talk to other farmers, I’m constantly reminded what a blessing it is to work with such good friends and family, and I hope you’ll take the time to get to know a few of them.
Thanks, Farmer Curtis and the entire crew.