Flowers, Friends, and Frying Under the Sun
All my life I have been an animal kid, plants and flowers were important, but only because they fed the livestock. As a senior in high school I knew that I was going to be studying Animal Sciences at K-State, but when my English teacher cornered me in the hallway one day I agreed to become the farm helper at his farm. His farm was a vegetable and flower farm that he and his wife started up in the last couple years. Needless to say I knew nothing about what they were growing, but I needed a job and the hours were flexible enough that I could do other jobs throughout the summer.
Chris and Audra Wyant started Finding Eminence Farm in Lexington, Illinois on a couple acres of land and a big farmhouse which their son would grow up in. They grew vegetables for farmers’ markets and local grocers and grew flowers for weddings, events, and their subscription members. My first two weeks there were spent weeding, painting the walls of a hoop house that had spiders in every corner, more weeding, some harvesting, and weeding. It was a hot two weeks, Audra and I didn’t really know each other, and I referred to Chris as “Hey you” because it was weird calling him Chris since for four years he was Mr. Wyant. Basically, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But as the weeks continued and I became more comfortable with Chris and Audra and my place on the farm, I began to love my job. I would stay there for two summers, but the experiences and lessons I learned there will last a life time. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Creativity comes in all forms. My sister was always the artistic one in my family. Because of her I have an appreciation for art but it was definitely never my forte. My second summer at the farm, I worked a lot more on the wedding side of the business. Audra and I spent hours together in a barely air-conditioned workshop listening to music and designing centerpieces and bouquets for someone’s big day. I loved it. I loved starting with a bunch of stems and creating a small part of a wedding from scratch. It brought a creative side that I never knew I had.
2. The customer is always right (especially a bride). It’s somebody’s wedding you’re designing, so pretty much whatever they say (within reason) goes. I once spent almost six hours designing wine bottle centerpieces for a wedding. There were seventy wine bottles I had to fill and I could only fit 2-3 stems in each one. It took forever and I complained about it the entire time, but it wasn’t my wedding. Brides always have a vision of what they want their wedding to look like, and it was our responsibility to make it a reality (even if it’s a pain).
3. Friends are made in the unlikely places. Chris and Audra are in their thirties, so a little over ten years older than I. Between the two summers I spent there and visits when I was home from school, they became some of my closest friends. Their problems in life are vastly different from mine, running a business, raising a child, and a million other things, but they still make time for dinner whenever I come knocking. Chris had always been one of my favorite teachers, but it turns out he along with Audra make even better friends.
My summers spent at Finding Eminence Farm are my favorites. After my sophomore year at K-State, I went out and got an internship in the swine industry to better focus on my future goals. Working with Chris and Audra pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow
creatively and just as a human being. They’re an amazing couple, who strive for the goals and are passionate about their business. They’re truly role models and wonderful mentors, and I am forever thankful that Chris found me in the hallway at school one day.
Check out their blog at www.findingeminence.com