When I was a kid, I wanted to design airplanes. I had posters of the SR-71 Blackbird supersonic spy plane and the B1 bomber (back when it was new). I just lived for the thought of designing something so big and so important.
Doors and windows. You’ve probably heard, generally from someone trying to console you after a defeat, “When God closes a door, he always opens a window.” In college, I got into the Ag Business program at Penn State, but I still secretly wanted to chase the dream of designing airplanes, so I took Engineering Calculus II.
That’s when the door slammed in my face. You see, I made it, got a B-, but the big realization was that I hated it. Not even the match so much as the future of this kind of work. I couldn’t see myself doing it for a lifetime. Airplanes were over.
At the end of college, I interviewed with my fellow Ag Business soon-to-be-grads. I interviewed for Farm Credit, got food poisoning at the interview banquet. SLAM. I interviewed with Continental Grain, got the job, but it was states away from my soon-to-be-wife. SLAM. Got a job selling insurance in my home county of York. Window OPEN.
Inside of 6 months, 3,000 cold-calls and bouts of jousting a large, insurance-minded bureaucracy the door was heading for my face again. I hated it. It was a job that sapped my will to live. Luckily, Maize Quest had just survived it’s first season (I ran it part time the first season) and I jumped for the opening window.
Maize Quest operates, then and now, as its own business, but I was so focused on it, we didn’t tie the experience to the farm like we should have that first year. Slowly, we integrated the experience to include the corn maze, fun park, apple picking, farm market and bakery as it is today.
Along the way, we built an Wireless Internet Service provider that shot high-speed internet service from our grain bins to local homes. It worked, but was a tremendous distraction for me. I’d work all day at the farm, then go climb someones roof to install an antenna or troubleshoot a transmission tower. It was exhausting and it didn’t make sense. So finally, to my great relief, we sold that business.
When everything makes sense. You might feel like I have over the years, that pull, a slight tug, at the back of your mind that for some reason, things don’t make sense. I believe this is in-congruence; when things don’t make sense together.
Bringing congruence to this farm. The reason things are finally in congruence, meaning they fit together, is our refocusing on the mission and vision of our farm.
It goes something like this:
- We are commercial farmers growing an abundance of crops.
- That works because we can have our u-pick guests pick the very best and ship the rest.
- Guests who pick, enjoy our farm products, so we staff and operate the farm market.
- The farm market allows us to retail products, while keep staff employed between grading fruit for wholesale.
- The winery makes sense, because over-ripe fruit is the juiciest and tastiest, but cannot be sold to wholesale or retail customers.
- The Winery attracts more retail guests to enjoy all our retail and u-pick opportunities.
- Maize Quest Corn Maze & Fun Park works because we know how to grow corn on a commercial level, so tending the cornfield it is straightforward.
- Maize Quest brings more people who love the outdoors to the farm, who likely will enjoy u-pick fruit as well.
- Maize Quest expands the time we can entertain guests to give them a longer experience on the farm, making the drive worth taking.
The Virtuous Cycle. Each part of our farm and business works together to build and support the other parts of the business. They all make sense, and the all make sense together.
When you grow up. I always smile when grown-ups ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. I think back to my high school days and remember that their wasn’t a guidance counselor form with a box marked “Maze Master” for me to check.
It’s a long way from designing airplanes, but there is a sense of relief each day when you have a lot to do, but it all makes sense. When things make sense, when they are congruent, it seldom feels like ‘work’.
See you soon at the farm,