Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Salad Planting, Team Effort

Juan Pablo and Manuel, our Salad Planting
Team and so much more!

Let me start out by saying that we may call Manuel Morales Peralta (aka Caliman) and Juan Pablo Cervantes Correa (aka Pablito) our salad planters, but they plant a lot more than just salad greens. Their almost weekly plantings consist of radishes, cilantro, baby bok choi, baby kale, arugula and more! They have been the salad planting team for the past two years, and they have done a great job! They understand and participate in the entire process from preparing the beds for planting to irrigating and putting on row covers after planting and finally the harvest.
Weighing the seed to calibrate the salad
planter before heading to the field

Juan Pablo and Manuel
  calibrating the salad planter
They are very conscientious about each planting and pay attention to all the fine details. If we have a new lot of seed, they calibrate the salad planting machine to make sure we put out the right amount of seed. Machines aren’t always right though. They follow up in the field to make sure everything is planting at the correct rate. There is a lot to keep track of: seed depth, seeds per foot, rows per bed, planter settings, etc. They execute this process every week, complete with a full set of records and maps for our files.

So far this year they have done 17 plantings with a few more to go. There are a lot of steps in the process to get to the final product – a bag of washed salad mix packed into your CSA box. There are many people involved in making that happen, but we wanted to focus on these two gentlemen this week so you can get to know them better. They not only share a bond here at Harmony Valley Farm, but also at home in Mexico!

Juan Pablo always happy,
even when calibrating
the salad planter

Manuel and Juan Pablo making sure everything is okay before
moving ahead with planting. Notice the irrigation pipe in
background waiting to to be laid out in the field to water the
newly planted seeds.

So what is the deal with Manuel and Juan Pablo anyway? We have written a little about Manuel in a previous newsletter that included his brothers who also work on the farm. You can find that newsletter in October 17-19, 2011. At that time there were only 3 brothers here. However, we are happy to say there are now four Morales brothers working with us. That is it for the Morales brothers, there are no more, but there are a few sisters, One of which is a girlfriend to Juan Pablo! I will talk more about her in a moment. Manuel is married to a beautiful woman named Veronica with three boys at home. Eric is the oldest at 15, Manuel is 10 and Alexander is 5. Of course I asked the question, “Are you planning a child every 5 years? Maybe a new baby this year?” So, both Manuel and Alvaro (one of Manuel’s brothers helping to translate) shook their head and laughed a pretty straight forward no.
The Morales brothers: Manuel, Rafael, Jose Alejandro and Alvaro
Manuel lives near his entire family in the San Miguel area in Mexico. When back home he likes to go to the park and out to eat with his family and even dancing with Veronica. They have almost weekly meals at their parents’ house with his siblings and their families. I picture the Christmas chaos at my house and admire this family all the more. The genuine love and caring for not only their family, but the entire crew is admirable. They even invite Juan Pablo over for most of these dinners and he will go a lot of places as a member of the family. This brings me to, who is Juan Pablo?
Cervantes Correa brothers: Alfredo and Juan Pablo
So Juan Pablo is a single guy with his eye on Araceli Morales, a sister to Manuel. They have been ‘dating’ a few years now and Juan Pablo has been building a house in Mexico for when they get married, and no wedding before it is completed. Before you get too excited, there is no date planned yet, although I have been pushing for one. I was asked to go and of course I would love to attend that wedding. We will see when they actually set a date. I hear that the house is almost complete, just a few more windows and smaller framing work to finish it up. I started going through Juan Pablo’s family and found that each brother or sister has a whole story so I think I have them all with 7 siblings’ total. One of which, Alfredo, started working with us last year and is also ‘dating’ another Morales sister. The two families do like each other! One of Juan Pablo’s older brothers, Francisco, was killed in an accident last year at the age of 26. That was a hard story to hear, and for him to tell. His entire family is, in Alvaro’s words, ‘very religious’. They attend church together weekly and both Juan Pablo and Alfredo were helpers in their Catholic church in Mexico. Two of their sisters, Maria Carla and Alicia, still play piano, guitars and other instruments for their church at least once a week. Juan Pablo said they are actually there most nights. When in Mexico and not working on his house, Juan Pablo helps his father, Juan, with his business fixing tires in his tire shop.
One big family: Alfredo, Manuel, Rafael, Jose Alejandro, Alvaro and Juan Pablo

So now that I am not on the newsletter, I have a little more room to write. I have watched the way all of these six men interact with each other and it warms my heart to know that they truly care about not only each other, but the work they do as well.  I talked with Andrea and Richard about these guys and here are some of their comments.  

Manuel is always upbeat and ready to go.  He is willing to do anything that needs to be done.  Some of his other responsibilities include, but not limited to: irrigation, planting cover crop seeds and loading trucks after hours and so much more!

Juan Pablo gives the biggest, most sincerely warm hugs and always has a smile and a giggle to share.  He has stepped up this summer and has taken over animal responsibilities. He has a gentle touch with each one of them.  He also helps in irrigation and harvest crews.

Bottom line is that we really appreciate these two men and all they have contributed to Harmony Valley Farm.  We are lucky to have them and look forward to many more years of them helping us out here!

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