In December 2012 I received an application for our apprenticeship from Emma Dosch. The skills and experiences on her application looked like a perfect fit, but there was one problem: She was still in school and couldn’t start until mid-May. Since our position started in early April, normally this would be an automatic rejection. But I couldn’t turn her application away, so I overlooked her start date, scheduled and interviewed her, and Emma became a part of our farm team.
In November, we decorated our greenhouse with string lights and crockpots galore to throw Emma a farewell party. When Emma started working on the farm, she told me she sticks with things and doesn’t bounce around. In retrospect, it’s as if she was giving me fair warning. If I’m here I’m going to give it my all and stick around for a while.
As an apprentice, Emma observed everything we did, quickly picked up on our operations, worked hard and contributed everything she could to help complete the day’s tasks. From the very start she offered to stay late, helping me with every last loose end, which was far beyond the expectations of her position. In Emma’s second year she became the Field Manager of our Henry Got Crops farm and each year she continued to take on more responsibility. Knowing the vegetable field was in good hands, I was able to tend to administrative work and our newly planted orchard.
Emma and I bonded over the many struggles we experienced on the farm. When most other sane people would have given up, she and I pressed on. It was the sharing of these brutally long days and all the myriad of challenges that let me know I could count on her for anything. Emma was always the first person I turned to when I needed to process the results of a meeting or brainstorm a new proposal.
I hope Emma feels immense pride in the impact she had on the farms and our communities. It is hard to imagine the farms without her because she has been a crucial part of the many changes we’ve made over the last six years. Annual harvests grew from approximately 36,000 to 56,000 pounds, while our CSA grew from 170 shares to 245 shares. She is hardwired to be thorough and efficient. When Emma is involved, the standard for just about everything goes up. She has a knack for creating systems and has left many in place to benefit us all in the years to come.
Whether in a conversation with a five year old in the cherry tomatoes, or in a strategic meeting about farm partnerships, Emma always gave her complete focus. I know these human relationships are what nourished Emma most on the farm. Her dedication to deliberate, respectful community building is a principle she lives by, and I’m sure this will continue, wherever she ends up next.