We asked our staff to tell you about their favorite job at the greenhouse. Here is what they said.
Amy: It’s really hard to decide which has been my favorite job around the greenhouse because there are several! I am a newbie so each season has been a brand new experience. One of the first things I did was transplanting; enjoyable to see the little plants move to larger homes. Another favorite is taking photos of plants and putting a face to their names. At times challenging but fun was pulling orders; picking out the plants ready for their customers. Yet another was looking through the 2015 catalogs and being part of the growing process for next year. Before I began working here, I remember seeing the staff photo on the Rush Creek Growers Facebook page, and thinking, “Those are my people!” Yes, sappy, but I am honored to be a part of the jobs here and the amazing team of people.
Annie: I am the bookkeeper. When the May accounts balance on the first try, I am a happy camper.
Babette: One of my favorite tasks at Rush Creek Growers is trimming herbs. We plant tiny herb cuttings to grow into herb plugs. We then transplant those plugs into the herb pots we ship to you. Trimming these little plants is one part of the process of growing full, healthy herb plugs which become vibrant herbs in someone's garden. I am lucky to get to do this job most of the time. As I work wafts of the rich smells of rosemary, mint, oregano or lavender surround me. I take home some sprigs to make a meal or a drink. I learn a bit each year about what the individual herbs want and offer. It is sensory rich and inspirational work. The hardest part is taking a wheelbarrow of trimmed mint or thyme to the compost pile. But growing is all about the cycle of life. I enjoy trimming herbs.
Becca: As I complete my first growing season here at Rush Creek, it’s hard to pick just one of my favorite jobs I’ve experienced here. From unpacking mountains of plug liners to planting to fertilizing to pulling and shipping plants. It feels as though I’ve done it all. My two favorite experiences came towards the end of the season. The first was creating topiaries of herbs, vines and anything else I could get my hands on. It was a learning experience but the living wreaths look amazing. My second favorite job was climbing up into the gutters of one of our tall greenhouses to change the roof plastic. What an incredible view of our little slice of heaven. Hey. I can see my house from here.
Eli: I guess I shouldn’t really say driving the delivery van around rural Wisconsin on a lovely late summer morning, should I? Although I am a sucker for a hilly two lane highway. Well, the intensity and breakneck pace of spring shipping season appeals to my high energy personality. I pull the edibles, and many of the early crops are finished outside, so there is no handy monorail cart nearby. It’s just schlepping those trays three at a time into the nearest doorway as fast as I can. Love the workout, love the quick crop turnaround, love the subtle colors of cold-kissed little kale and broccoli plants, love the feeling of a job well done when that last truck of the day pulls out… But my absolute favorite soul-nourishing job here is the Science Project component of being a grower. The word “trial” still gets me excited and Suzanne and Vicky will let me try to grow almost anything. Sure there are plenty of duds, but there is always a chance that some little seedling will mature into a really cool plant all of us fight over the honor of taking home.
Gary: I have been in charge of basket designs for the past nine years. Is this my favorite job? Yes and no. I start designing them in the late summer and it takes approximately 2 weeks of scanning catalogs, organizing plants by growth habit, sun, shade or in between, finding new varieties and lots of discussions with Suzanne and Vicky about what they would like to see and offer. What has been enjoyable about this task is seeing the editing process develop over the years. The game of what plant is compatible with what plant. Will they grow together evenly? What is unique for color combinations? The introduction of mixed liners, ready for greenhouses, to grow into baskets has boomed over the past few years and are offered by almost all plug growers. I am proud that Vicky and Suzanne still have confidence in my vision to allow me to continue designing. Hopefully can we offer our customers a unique product they aren't going to find anywhere else.
Jan: Responding to the question “what is my favorite job at Rush Creek Growers?” is genuinely difficult. There are so many things I love doing at the greenhouse. But to pick just one, I’d have to say it is organizing the shipping. During the busy time of the year it is my job to coordinate the rest of the crew to pull orders and load trucks. I love it because it’s always a bit crazy. There are so many small details to keep track of, quality control to keep an eye on, and problems to solve. I enjoy multitasking and organizing chaos, so it’s both fun and challenging.
Katharine: My favorite part of this job is handling the plants, and watching them change. So that to me means planting the teeny-beenies, and weeding and pruning the "matures". When I'm pruning, time disappears. I get to see the natural forms of each species and even each individual, in response to a given set of growing conditions. Sometimes they look worse after a pruning, before they look better. But I find it fun to work with what is given, and use the buds' encoded "instructions" to find a form suitable for travel and sale: neat, compact and strong.
Margy: The spring greenhouse is where I unwind....literally! My challenge is to keep annual vines from intertwining, which is exactly what they aim to do. Once winter is fading and the sun streams into the greenhouse, I become the vine tamer on the seasonal team.
Mel: My favorite job here at Rush Creek is ordering perennials. It gives me the chance to see what is new in the perennial industry. Gives me insight on how plug companies deal with pests and how well these companies work into our program.
Norma: My favorite job at the greenhouse is watering on the weekends. It is quiet and I can see and hear the birds outside (and inside). It gives me time to see how things are growing, what is coming into bloom and decide which plants I really like.
Ruth: Rush Creek is the best job I've ever had. I can't imagine wanting to work anywhere else. Just getting my hands dirty in a warm greenhouse in the dead of winter is wonderful enough... not to mention the eclectic cast of characters I get to work with. It keeps this 56 year old grounded in knowing what is most important to pass on to my granddaughters as we did with our own children.
Suzanne: Working with our crew and coordinating the production of the spring crops is my favorite task. Getting everything planted on time and providing the right growing conditions to have everything finish at the right moment is a really great challenge. We get a clean slate each year.
Tom: Instead of deciding a particular favorite job that I do here at Rush Creek, I’m just going to say that the thing I like best about my job is that I do so many different things. It changes almost every day. There’s always something else breaking down or wearing out that I have to try to fix.
Vicky W.: Imagine… it is a cold winter day. Maybe fresh snow or frost on the trees as I drive to meet with one of our customers. Hot cup of coffee in their kitchen or a coffee shop talking plants and getting excited about the coming spring. I get to spend hours with folks who live and breathe plants and exciting their customers. I get to hear about their plans for the coming year and we get to be part of that. Wow! Meanwhile our crew is back at the greenhouse, making it all come true. Just don’t offer me a second cup of coffee or I’ll never stop talking! P.S. I do love greenhouse construction. I have become less able to help with some of the projects we do in the winter but I love the camaraderie of the crew working to complete a new greenhouse or change roofs, a tangible sense of accomplishment and tired to the bones at the end of the day.