by Kelly Kuester
|Angel, Juan Antonio, and Rufino|
|Jose and Angel cleaning ramps|
Angel, Rufino and Juan Antonio. Let’s start with Angel Tapia Lopez, who has been working at Harmony Valley Farm for 8 years now! He has been married to his wife Rosa Zuniga Zuniga for 21 years. They have 4 children together, Maria Itzel, 20; Juan Antonio, 18 (more on him later); Tonia, 15; and Angel Alejandro, 10. In Mexico, Angel likes to go fishing and dancing with his family. He will sometimes work home constructions jobs, as well as taking care of his 25 sheep and a pig at his home. Yes, just one pig. Angel is child #7 out of 11. He lives close to his parents and most of his siblings as well. He helps out his father with his 50 plus sheep as well as his own.
|Angel roasts the pig|
responsibility. He is an experienced crew leader for beets, kale, collards and sweet corn. He has a way of motivating the crew to meet their goals every time they go to the field. Not only does he lead the crew on occasion, but he also does a lot of field preparation, including rotovating and bed shaping before the planting crew takes their turn in the field. He is considered our resident butcher and chef as well as fencer and animal guru. One of the more important tasks that Angel is very well versed in is chopping. After a crop is finished, we have to chop it before we can work the remaining plant matter into the soil. It is extremely important to know the field numbers and crops. It could be disastrous to chop a crop that we should be harvesting that week! Because Angel has been a long time trusted worker, we listened when he asked to bring another member of his family to work here. This year we have his son, Juan Antonio, and brother, Rufino, working with us.
Rufino is Angel’s brother, #9 of 11 in the pecking order. Rufino had worked with us many years ago, and then decided to branch out and work at other farms across North America. Although we like to encourage new things and experiences, we are certainly happy to have Rufino return! This is his second year back with Harmony Valley Farm. He is very serious about any task given to him, from leading a crew to cleaning up the packing shed, it is all business till the task is done. He has been a crew leader this year for cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi and radish harvests. He is also learning the trick to meat packing on the CSA truck. He said that there were no favorite tasks on the farm, he likes it all. Then there was the tell-tale pause. When pressed, he admitted that he did not like to harvest nettles. He said sometimes if your gloves are thin, you get stung right through the gloves. While in Wisconsin, Rufino likes to fish and go shopping for ‘stuff’ at the mall for his wife and children.
Rufino has been married to his wife Maria de Los Angeles Sanchez Mendez for 11 years. They have 3 children together: Natalia, 9; Juan Diego, 8; and Aide Jennifer, 3. Like Angel, Rufino lives close to his parents. He farms 7 hectares, or roughly 17.30 acres of corn, dry beans and oats. He has 3 chickens and hopes to increase that number to 40 next year. He also has 1 pig, and we can guess what that one pig is for. To keep Angel’s pig company of course! When not working his farm, or helping his father feed and water his sheep, Rufino likes to play soccer, cards and going fishing with his kids. He said his wife really does not like fishing at all. He takes her dancing in town sometimes.
|Juan Antonio bunching cilantro|
Juan Antonio, like others who are new to the crew, works on the harvest crew and he is quickly learning the field numbers and crops. Andrea likes to quiz the newer crew on field numbers they were just harvesting from when they bring the veggies to the packing shed. Juan Antonio is passing those quizzes with flying colors. He hopes to learn more about the tractors and equipment in the future so he can follow in his father’s footsteps. He is very happy to be working here and says that it is much easier being this far away from home when his father and uncle are both here with him. (Side note: Angel was standing right next to Juan Antonio when he said that. My assumption is that it is true, but thought it should be stated.) If you are able to come to our Harvest Party this weekend, you can meet these three handsome gentlemen in person!