Conference Room 3A at Pond Hill FarmToday (Thursday) I get into work around 8:30, pull out my laptop, brew a pot of coffee and sit down at my desk. A few minutes late the store phone rings, and it’s Jimmy, the owner of the farm. We had been meaning to sit down to go over things for the last week or so, but at this time of the season often referred to as “hellweek(s)” it’s hard to talk to Jimmy for even five minutes before he has a fire to go put out. On the phone, Jimmy tells me that he’s planting pumpkin seeds in the front west field and that we could talk while he did it. So I walked beside him in the field for almost three hours while he planted hundreds of pumpkin seeds, three at a time, while talking about nearly every facet of Pond Hill. We went over all the departments; the staff, the HR issues, the plan going forward etc.. And while I feel like it gave me a good holistic view of the operation, I feel like it gave me even better insight into Jimmy’s world and his wants.
I’ve been visiting this farm my entire life and have known Jimmy for years, but this talk gave me a better understanding of his role in all of it. He loves being able to get out in the fields and work on projects and oversee production, and he wants to keep things that way. This also made me realize that he wouldn’t be the one to take on the role of general manager, a position that he’s been looking to define and fill in the recent years. I agree that this is the way it should be; having someone look over the daily function of the entire site and allowing Jimmy to be the farmer he wants to be, but it opens the door for one potential problem that I can see off the bat. This general manager would be put in a difficult position where he/she is under the authority of Jimmy, but also responsible for telling him where his time is best spent. I think it’s a difficult role to define but also one that is necessary for the future prosperity of the business. I’m interested to see how the management of Pond Hill Farms and Harbor Springs Vineyards and Winery evolves and develops in the years to come.