I never thought I’d be an employer, thinking more as an employee for many years, then as a farmer, with all the work done by the family. Then it became obvious that we couldn’t do it all ourselves and the number of people who work for JenEhr grew steadily each year. Today, there are eight full time seasonal crew working on the farm (seasonal means they start working 40+ hours per week in March and finish when we close up for winter December first). Our farmer’s market staff is comprised of seven incredible individuals who are willing to arise early on Saturday mornings. Some of those same dedicated people staff our CSA pick up locations in Madison and Milwaukee.
My employee perspective certainly had plenty of blind spots when it came to the “boss”. But I think there are as many blind spots when it comes to how we treat the people who work for us. First, I want to tell you that here at JenEhr, we would not be able to feed as many people, staff as many farmers markets or CSA pick ups without the incredible staff working at the farm. Second – I think of our crew as people who work with us, not for us.
This June has been a work filled month, with everyone putting in extra hours and efforts. But what really brought this “crew love” home was this past Saturday at farmers markets. By the time I hit the West Allis Farmers Market Saturday noon, I was pretty wiped out. I unloaded the van and declared a need for a nap. My crew of Bryan and Delany, down one no show, promptly opened the door to the van, with a “nap away” response. During my much needed two hours of sleep, as I dozed in and out, I heard how the crew really protected my need for rest, letting those inquiring where I was know that they could take care of whatever needed to be done, never once needing to rouse me from a much needed slumber. The Capitol crew has performed much the same kind of blanket protection for Farmer Paul after a long night on the tractor or an early day with irrigation, greenhouse watering and market loading.
Back at the farm, you’ll find our hard working crew of eight reorganizing the day when something gets missed or new work added. You will often find the three amigos staying late to finish odds and ends, with everyone arriving at 6AM to keep the haygroves weed free and hoophouses trellised to the ceiling.
JenEhr is no doubt a reflection of the farmers who started the farm 16 years ago. But it is no longer the Kay and Paul show, but a farm made up of a group of the most talented and dedicated people. A crew that makes sure we’re harvesting and weeding in a timely manner; folks who work in the office to keep things organized and communications clear; women we’ve known for more than a decade who staff the farmers market stands and CSA pick up locations; families we’ve adopted and who have loved us back. Every CSA share you receive is a result of their hard work, but even more importantly, their dedication to the farm and getting you the best produce and poultry we can grow. I invite you to share my “crew love” as you open and consume your CSA share this week and every week.