While I didn’t grow up on a farm, my father was an agricultural service provider and made sure we had every opportunity to learn about agriculture. I was actively involved in 4-H and went on to work for the provincial 4-H office for many years. There I discovered my passion for organizing activities and events for people which led me to complete my degree in Leisure and Recreation. While working for 4-H I met Phil Quinn, whose family had been in the agri-tourism business since 1982 and had been longstanding members of NAFDMA. I quickly fell in love with the business where I could combine my passion for agriculture, educating people and organizing events. I have only been involved with NAFDMA for a few years, but so quickly saw how much the organization had to offer and how willing the members were to share, support and help us build our business.
White House Fruit Farm is a fourth generation farm. Kim is from the third generation and began working on the farm as a young child. Her first job was folding baskets, which all farm children know leads to field work and beyond. After leaving the farm to get an education and raise a family, Kim returned to serve in various positions before choosing to grow the fall gift market. She presently manages the gift market and is busy developing yearly events on the farm.
Kim was first introduced to NAFDMA by Debbie Pifer, the farm market manager/owner. The energy, ideas, support, and openness of all the members, who are leaders in the industry, challenged her and set the course of growth for the fall gift market, as well as other areas on the farm. She believes we all benefit when we take an active role in the areas that enrich us personally and professionally. Serving as a board member allows her to give back to the association that has spurred that growth.
Jay Schwinn, Walter's Pumpkin Patch
In 2014 Schwinn Produce Farm LLC was honored to host the NAFDMA conference at their fourth generation family farm. Jay was immediately struck with the organization and more importantly its members. From that conference forward the desire to promote Agritourism has driven Jay to get involved. NAFDMA has proven time and time again that Agri-entrepreneurs of any size can benefit from this amazing group of forward-thinking individuals.
Jay currently manages The Barn at Schwinn Produce Farm and in 2017 opened, with his cousin, a new Agritourism destination, Salt Creek Valley Agriventures LLC. Jay also serves as the Chair of the Kansas Agritourism Advisory Council and as a Commissioner of the Leavenworth Kansas Planning and Zoning board.
Amy Ladd with her husband Jason owns and operate Lucky Ladd Farms in the community of Eagleville, Tennessee where they are involved in agritourism and farm direct marketing. What began as a hobby has quickly evolved into Tennessee’s largest petting farm and a premier agritourism destination for thousands of families in Middle Tennessee each year. Amy’s professional experience also includes working with agritourism, direct farm marketing, and value-added producers in the areas of business development and marketing during her tenure with the University of Tennessee, Center for Profitable Agriculture. Amy received a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 2002 and went on to complete her M.B.A. in 2005, both from Middle Tennessee State University. Amy shared the following sentiments when joining the NAFDMA Board, “This organization has been a key factor in the success of our business. The relationships we have made and information we have yielded through our participation over the years has been invaluable. I believe in paying it forward and would love the opportunity to not only help this organization grow but also to serve as a mentor to other startup operations.”
Jeff Probst, Blooms & Berries Farm Market
Jeff Probst grew up in a rural setting with a childhood focus on creativity, education and the outdoors. When he turned 14, his parents Dave and Cathy Probst moved to the family farm, fired up the 1957 Ford tractor and showed a young Jeff how to plant strawberries. Next were pumpkins and produce. Eventually, his family built a small garden center and Blooms & Berries was founded so Jeff could learn life skills, develop a solid work ethic and ultimately pay his own way through college. What followed was a realization of a passion and the recognition that being a good person in conjunction with hard work, dedication, passion, and a plan brings amazing opportunity.
In 2012, Jeff married his wife Emily as added proof of his blessings. By 2013 Blooms & Berries sales experienced a 20% increase. Another year, another conference and 2014 brought about a 53% increase in Fall sales and an overall annual increase of 30% yet above 2013. Jeff expects another amazing and blessed year in 2015 as he and his wife Emily welcome the birth of their first child in March and the construction of new market barn to be opened May. Jeff says, “I have a passion for direct to consumer agriculture, innovative ideas, continuous improvement and helping others. I believe NAFDMA embodies all of the above, explaining why I respect and admire the people of NAFDMA so very much. My areas of strength are fueled by my ongoing optimism, and they generally revolve around new business development, mid-term strategic planning, and some risk assessment. I feel serving on the Board of Advisors will be a great way for me to begin to pay back this organization for the huge contributions to my business and my future.”
Amy Holmberg, Holmberg Orchards & Winery
Amy is Retail Manager and 4th generation family member at Holmberg Orchards & Winery, located in southeastern Connecticut. She plays an active role in the farm’s diversified retail operations, including Pick-Your-Own, Winery and a bustling year-round Farm Market and bakery. Amy also oversees HR and Marketing for the farm business as well. Additionally, she runs multiple large-scale farm events, most notably an annual Spring Festival that attracts thousands and includes a full farmer’s market, food trucks and features farm tours and winery tastings to kick off the season.
I believe organizations thrive on the participation of its members; we are best able to meet the needs of a group when it is consistently and diversely represented. I’ve pushed myself far outside my introverted comfort zone at past conferences to network with other members, and the reward has been great.
Rebecca McArthur, McArthur Farms
The lady in the tractor seat at McArthur Farms is Rebecca McArthur. She was born and raised in South Carolina. Rebecca is a graduate of Francis Marion University and FDTC with degrees in Biology and Nursing. The daughter of the late Lester and Clara McArthur, she is also the youngest of three children. Rebecca loves God, family, friends, the beach, and her animals. Working in agriculture and then the nursing field, she was faced with a decision … “Which career do you want to do?”… and from that point, McArthur Farms became a working dream. McArthur Farms is a 400-acre working farm with a farm market, bakery, catering services, and an agritourism farm. McArthur Farms specializes in small fruit/ vegetables and berry production as well as traditional row crops including corn, cotton, and soybeans. “My first NAFDMA conference was in Pennsylvania with 2 blizzards. It was the BEST money I spent for my farm.” Rebecca has attended each conference since then. “NAFDMA has allowed me to meet and make friends who are more like family. I could never repay this organization for the value it has provided me and my farm!”