From The Fields: Our farm family
This story written by our resident Field Steward, Emily Thomson
With our farm nearly at rest save for the washing and packing of root crops, it seems like a good opportunity to write a bit about the people whose hard work brings the food from farm to table throughout the season. A few of these folks have been with Full Circle almost since Andrew and Wendy first broke ground in North Bend 15 years ago, and have become beloved members of our farm family. Although some of our employees leave for the winter months and return in the spring, many have settled permanently in the surrounding community. photo below: Full Circle’s farm packing and processing crew
During the high season, we’ll have as many as 60 people driving tractors and harvesting crops, but we’re down to our core winter field crew of 14. Among the old hands who have been with Full Circle for years are harvest supervisor Orlando Valdez-Lopez, whose thorough knowledge of our fields, produce and processes is by now indispensable; and Carlos Gomez, who for many years ran the tractor crews and is now responsible for all activities on our Ames Creek and Willows farms. Newer on the roster but still with several years under her Full Circle belt is Jessica Kagele, who comes from an eastern Washington wheat-farming family and was practically born on a tractor. She began as an intern, moved on to implementing our on-farm compost production program, and now manages all of Griffin Creek farm operations. More of our farm family: Orlando Valdez-Lopez (l), Jessica Kagele (r)
The packing shed is holding steady at 12 people for at least another month while they finish up the storage crops. Lino Martinez-Rojas has done a terrific job managing this crew since arriving as a bright, fresh-faced 18-year old in 2009. Completely new to farming at that time, he learned quickly – not without the help of Juana Vazquez and Patricia Velasco, who between them have over ten years experience packing Full Circle produce. Our field and packing shed crew members are remarkable, experienced people; it takes a strong back, gentle hands and a spirit of dedication to work day in and day out under sometimes-challenging conditions, to produce the quality product which bears the Full Circle name.
We’ll feel the absence this year of those who have moved on: former planting manager Emily Cronk, field supervisor Victor Temblador Topete, and others. But in a ritual which will play out on farms across the country, when May rolls around, there will be new names to remember and old friends to welcome back as a new season begins.