Lessons Learned

Hey everybody! For those of you who don't know me (and most of you don't), I'm Emily Russell.  I have been interning with Keeler Family Farms for the past two and a half months. I wanted to write this blog post to show and tell you about some of what I got to do and lessons learned here at the shed. So let's begin.

Firstly, welcome to Keeler Family Farms. We are located in the South Western portion of New Mexico and are situated just south of Deming. We farm and process fresh produce (mainly onions, green Chile, squash, and pumpkins) and ship it across the country. 

Like I said before, my name is Emily Russell. I am a born and raised New Mexican and I call Las Cruces home. (For those of you unfamiliar with the layout of New Mexico, Las Cruces is situated 61 miles East of Deming.) I am presently about to start my third semester of my graduate program to get my Masters of Science in Agricultural Economics. (Isn't that a mouthful?) 

I drove out to Deming to interview for what was labeled as a "Marketing Intern" but what I got out of my time here at Keeler Family Farms was so much more than that.  

A little background: I come from an agricultural background but have never been directly involved in the production or processing of any agricultural goods. So when I was offered this position I really didn't know what to expect as far as the happenings of the work place. I would like to start with this: Don't forget to thank the farmers you know. What they do is hard work, long hours, and little to no free time. 

Produce never sleeps.
— Cass Keeler

Guys...this was the longest couple of months of my life. I can say with utmost confidence that this summer I worked the most hours and the hardest I have ever worked thus far. Running a farm is no joke and definitely no easy task. Produce never sleeps and in turn, neither do farmers. I got only a taste of that as I didn't have to be up at 4 am to check fields or bale hay. (I am most certainly not qualified to operate a tractor.) 

But even with all the hours put in, it was never a dull moment and there was never a day that wasn't worth it. This summer turned from a simple marketing internship to a full immersion of what it takes to run a shed and an office. 

A summer at the onion shed reminded me that hard work isn't easy but it is worth it. I was also reminded that sometimes you make mistakes and that is perfectly fine but you need to own up to those mistakes, learn from them and work hard at not letting it happen again. I learned that a commute over a hour one-way is rough but working with great people makes it worth it. 

I also learned that my Spanish is subpar at best and that I do not know enough to hold a conversation. (Just enough to tell the poor souls I worked with that I had no idea what they were saying.) I learned that paperwork adds up quickly but is really important to cover your bases. I learned why farmers don't want to do anything on their days off. (When you work from sunup to way past sundown it's hard to find motivation to leave the house.)

I got the opportunity to remember how important agriculture is and all the hard work farmers put into making sure the highest quality is getting sent out to consumers. I learned that farms make gorgeous backdrops for photos and that there is beauty in the process. There is something truly satisfying about watching a commodity go from the field to the shed and shipped out across the country. 

I fell in love with the sight of the Florida Mountains (even though the Organs will always be my favorite.) Late nights meant some spectacular sunsets painted across that New Mexican sky. They let me sneak off into the fields every once in a while to take some photos of the fields and processing. Keep an eye out on their Instagram page (@keelerfarms) for more of those to come!

Keeler Family Farms let me have creative freedom during my internship which resulted in some sweet shirts (seriously check out their Facebook page or click this link: https://represent.com/store/keeler-family-farms and get yourself a couple!), an updated website, some awesome photos for their Instagram, and lots of ideas for the future. I was also released into the fields to take photographs and videos capturing the growing of the produce as well as the processing. This resulted in getting to frolic, stand, run, and lay in fields. (No joke, people. I must have looked like a lunatic taking some photos.)  

Working with the Keelers has been a summer for the books. They have been nothing but kind and welcoming to me and for that I am grateful. Talks with the Keelers were always so much more than talks about work. They were discussions of work, life, family, business, ideas and love. The Keelers are genuine people who have the utmost respect for people they come in contact with. It has been a privilege working with everyone at Keeler Family Farms. 

Thanks for inviting me in and working me hard. I now know that college did teach me a lot more than I thought and that nothing really replaces the experience you get from hands on experience. Thanks to all the Keelers and everyone else at the shed who made this summer full of hard work completely worth it. This isn't a "farewell" but simply a "see you later."

-Emily Russell