age / 26 crops / pears, apples, cherries, berries, peaches, nectarines business / Cody Orchards and Farm Stand other experience / Learning from her stepfather on the family farm
I’m a fourth generation fruit farmer. My father passed away. However, my stepdad has been fantastic letting me continue farming. I have 30 acres and my stepbrother runs about 30 acres. The plan was to bring the stress level down of running our farm and allow us kids to know whether we wanted to pursue farming full time.
The first year was really tough. I grew up working on the farm so I knew some of the jobs. But from the management side, there’s so many things I just didn’t know — so many factors that are out of your control that you just have to wait and see how it turns out. It was hard for me. Everyone I knew supported me saying, “just let it roll off your shoulder. It’s going to be OK.”
The biggest challenge my first year was getting to know the equipment and learning how to operate it efficiently and properly, because once you cause damage to a machine and pay for the repairs, you learn really quick the correct way to use it.
Another challenge has been learning to communicate with your workers effi ciently. Being able to tell them why they need to be so careful harvesting and how that affects the prices we get. It impacts the quality of the fruit and the returns that we can put back into the farm and invest.
I think one of the advantages I’ve had growing up on the farm is with the crew members. They know me pretty well and I feel like they are rooting for me.
TJ Mullinax joined Good Fruit Grower as digital producer and photojournalist in 2013. He photographs and edits visual stories for the print magazine and online publishing spaces. Along with editorial production, TJ develops and maintains the magazine’s digital products. -- Follow the author: Phone: (509) 853-3519 -- Email