Thursday, July 10, 2014

Just Who is Kelly the Bookkeeper?... “I’m Not Just a Pretty Face!”

by Richard de Wilde

You can say that again! Kelly Kuester, our bookkeeper, is a six year veteran of Harmony Valley Farm and a definite “keeper!” Officially Kelly is our bookkeeper, but she is so much more than that. She is a very important part of our team. She could also be called “Chief Financial Officer” because she watches over our bank accounts and finances as if they were her own. Kelly has initiated numerous controls that have saved us thousands of dollars over the years. She provides us with regular financial reports and has close communications with our accountant, who deserves his own newsletter for all he does for us! But Kelly’s contributions to the farm go beyond just bookkeeping. Kelly is very involved in “Human Resources.” She screens job applicants and trains new hires. Guess who holds down the office when needed during transitions? Kelly does! Time for reviews? Kelly is there! She manages our health insurance and retirement programs and makes sure everyone is paid in a timely manner. Kelly is the first one we call when there is a computer or phone network problem (Andrea & I are not allowed to touch the important cables). Generally she fixes the problem, or trouble-shoots and knows who to call for help. Need a weather forecast? Call Kelly and she’ll tell you the ETA for the next rain storm! Kelly is also the one Captain Jack turns to after lunch when he comes in from playing ball. She knows his look and is always willing to get him a bowl of fresh, cold water.

Kelly keeps the office running smoothly with a smile!

So I’ve given away my bias, I appreciate Kelly every day! I decided to ask our crew what they thought….and boy did I get a response! “Kelly is very busy, but she always has time to help us with banking or tax questions, etc.” “She is very helpful to everybody, always friendly and smiling. She is nice to everybody, jokes with us, and she just makes the day brighter!” Kelly makes sure everyone’s birthday is acknowledged by ambushing them at the morning or afternoon crew meetings to lead the group in singing “Happy Birthday.” She is also responsible for planning our annual crew party….complete with water balloons, piñatas, volleyball, soccer and a whole lot of fun!

Too good to be true? What planet does Kelly come from? The truth is we have a genuine “local farm girl.” This is a rare find these days! Kelly tells it like she sees it, is honest and has a real “farm girl” work ethic. She goes home when the job is done and comes in early when she needs to in order to make sure important things are taken care of….like payroll. She’s been known to work on weekends to help with CSA deliveries and make sure orders are processed in a timely manner early in the season.

Kelly grew up on her family’s farm just a few miles from HVF. The Kuester farm was purchased by Kelly’s great grandfather in 1890 for just $400! Kelly still lives on the home farm with her husband, Bruce. Kelly’s parents still live in the original farmhouse. Her father, Ses, is known and liked by us forever as the guy who delivered our propane for many years. Kelly credits her Dad for teaching her to “help others.” He was always helping neighbors with their crops and animals. Kelly’s mother, Linda, takes credit for her good looks and brains!

Kelly grew up loving the outdoors. She enjoyed fishing with her Mom and grandparents and liked to sit in the woods for hours watching and listening to the wild critters. She enjoys simple pleasures in life such as daily walks with her dog, Casper, and taking care of her garden (this year she’s growing peanuts—I’m envious!).  She is very much a part of her community and volunteers for different events throughout the year. Last winter she participated in a bowling league and enjoys kayaking & canoeing when time allows.

Kelly has one son, Kodi, who is in his early twenties. During her early years as a young mother, Kelly worked hard doing a variety of jobs including house cleaning, cleaning for the local bank, and then was hired as the bank teller! She went to night school for bookkeeping and has worked hard over the years to build her set of skills. Prior to working at our farm, she had several jobs with small businesses including a car wash, a car dealership and a towing company. She did everything that needed to be done in the office and then some! Over the years she has learned the value of being observant at work and stepping up to the plate to do whatever needs to be done…whether it’s in her job description or not. At HVF, she can most often be found answering the phones or working at her desk. If you don’t find her in the office, check the field—she might be helping with melon harvest or transplanting.  If you don’t find her there, check the packing shed where you might find her helping to pack CSA boxes or bunching asparagus late in the day for the farmer’s market! And if all else fails…check the kitchen where she might be stirring a pot of chili for lunch! She loves to understand the “whole process” likes to “think things through,” and likes to have all her “ducks in a row.” She does her work with extreme accuracy and very high standards and will work late to find the missing penny. She truly cares about all around her and takes pride in her work.

Her personal philosophy is to always be pleasant, because it makes those around her have a good day. She likes the challenge and complexity of HVF. It challenges her brain to keep learning, to keep the details straight. We appreciate and value Kelly and all she does to make our farm run smoothly. Kelly is a rare jewel and we hope to keep her challenged for many years to come! Thank you Kelly for all the things you do and for making all our days brighter!

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