Meet Our Herb Grower: Vanessa Davis
Did you come from a farming/gardening family? Can you share a story about that?
I grew up with very large gardens that fed our family of six throughout the entire year. I remember my dad plowing the fields, helping him plant the corn (all the pink dye on my finger…ick!) and lots of weeding. I loved husking corn and peas and helping my mom can tomatoes and green beans for the winter. I was often at my grandparents cattle farm as well, mostly playing hide and seek in the hay lofts with my siblings and cousins, while my grandpa, dad, and uncles put up the hay.
When did you first know you wanted to be a small farmer?
It took me a long time to come back to the earth. After some time running from all that I loved, I found myself again as I planted, weeded, harvested, and cooked while staying with a dear friend and horse farmer in Beaver County. I loved “playing in the dirt”, being outside, feeling my body, and watching all the plants as they grew. I loved the creativity of using as much as we possibly could and the generosity of sharing our bounty to others in our community.
What was your first farm-related job?
Here at Cherry Valley Organics is my first farming job and its been an adventure as I moved from an Assistant Grower supporting both the Vegetable and Herb Departments to a short time as a Vegetable Grower, spending most of last season as the Retail Operations Manager supporting our Café, Markets, and Farm Share customer service. This year I will be focusing on growing and producing the Culinary Herbs and Herbal Products. With a focus on fresh and dried culinary herbs, I am excited to bring in my love of cooking as we continue to grow our herbal product lines. After more than 20 years of working and 2 other careers, I have found what I will do the rest of my life.
What do you like most about farming?
What I love about it, is to see the tightly woven connections that are happening in our environment all the time and getting to be a part of those connections with intention. I get to chat with the bees while I’m weeding, ensure healthy plants are harvested at the right time, and make sure they all have plenty to eat and drink. Those connections then move on from harvest to consumption. I love interacting with our customers, sharing how they can use what we have grown for them, and learning from them as well.
What do you like least about farming?
I wouldn’t say that there is anything I “like least” about farming. What I will say is there is a lot to learn. You have to be willing to try and make mistakes and grow from them in knowledge and action. I have grown so much, not only in my knowledge of farming but as a person in the last few years.
What’s your favorite crop to grow?
I truly love the herbs. They are such an amazing addition to the colorful vegetables we grow and they have the power to enhance any dish you cook. They can take you on a trip around the world as you learn how to combine herbs in Italian, Mexican, or Indian dishes, for example. Not to mention the amazing ways they support a healthy lifestyle.
Share what your average day is like on the farm.
Its never a dull day, that’s for certain, nor is any day the same. I do a fair amount of seeding, planting, maintenance, and harvest. Then on to drying and packaging. I get to support a team of seasonal staff, work with some amazing colleagues across the teams, and even help process the veggies for farm share. Coordinating logistics across the teams to ensure retail operations are running smoothly continues to be a specialty area for me. Each day is different but there is rarely a day without water, whether I’m watering newly planted seedlings or cleaning freshly harvested lettuces for the shares.
What has made you feel the proudest to be a farmer?
Honestly, I am humbled to be a farmer. I have the privilege of working in a field that is integral to our life, health, and communities. Farming is difficult work with a lot of uncertainty throughout. Yet, at the end of the day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to contribute to the community in such an important and multifaceted way.
Thank you as always for your support!!
The Cherry Valley Organics Farm Family