What It’s Like Growing More Than Produce

A day in the life of Andrea Jackson at Harvestland Farm in Anderson
As part of Aspire Indiana, a mental-health center, Harvestland Farm, where Andrea Jackson works as foreman, hires those with a barrier to employment, like depression or a learning disability. All revenue from the organic fruits and veggies is reinvested in the program. 

Thursdays in the summer, we’re harvesting for market.

8 a.m.  I obsess over the weather. I have a few weather pages bookmarked on my computer. To have a general idea of what you’re about to get hit with is good. About 10 of us harvest, all by hand. We harvest as much as possible early, getting kale and chard while they’re still in the shade. Inside eight greenhouses we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, tomatillos, and peppers. Mosquitoes like to attack in the houses, so you’re trying to hurry before you get eaten alive.

10 a.m.  We wash everything and put it in coolers, splitting up inventory between the Carmel and Broad Ripple markets.

12 p.m.  At lunch, we sit around the picnic table next to the barn, joke, and relax.

2 p.m.  Everything has to be packed correctly and ready to go [to market] for the next morning. It’s easy to forget tomatoes because they aren’t in the cooler, and that’s probably the worst thing ever to forget.

3 p.m.  I love the heat. You’re weeding in the field with a stirrup hoe, and you’re just dripping with sweat, trying to keep these plants alive.

4 p.m.  I get on the tractor to till up beds or prepare beds for transplanting. I love the smell of dirt.
And chicken manure. It’s the farm smell, like the tractor running and the grease.

5 p.m.  The night before a market day, I think about who’s going to be there and try to get our people to do things they’re good at.


This article appeared in the August 2015 issue.