Some Thoughts From Farmer Frank
When deciding to make this change to our operation I have been able to reflect on our past experiences. In the early 1980’s my brothers Mike and Dave Whittamore took over the small Pick-Your-Own from our parents Gilbert and Evelyn. I’m lucky to say that my dad is still working in his garden today at the age of 95. I joined my brothers in 1985 and we continued to grow the business. Every year we strived to try new things, grow new crops and expand our offerings to the community. Retail farming has been in our family for many generations, I grew up in the pick-your-own strawberry fields, so it became a part of me. I know that many of our customers feel that Whittamore’s Farm is their farm. That’s why we coined our slogan “Your Farm in the City”. With the thousands of farm visits over the 60 plus years, I want to thank the generations of the customers who have supported us. I truly appreciate your commitment to our farm.
Since I’ve been involved in the position of owning and operating the farm, we’ve hired hundreds of outstanding students to help us run the Pick-Your-Own, Farm Shop, Fun Farm Yard and Pumpkinland. The students that we hire today are as great as the ones we hired thirty years ago and the ones my parents hired sixty years ago. Some would say that today’s young people are lazy and have a poor work ethic; I have to say that this is not true. We’ve had generations of family members work for us over the years. For many of them, working at Whittamore’s was their first job in life. I’ve had many former student employees come up to me and say “I got my first job at Whittamore’s and it was the best one ever”. It’s all about being patient and teaching the youth how to learn to do a task. Students have been a big part of our employment, some who have grown with the business and become full time employees. Over the years we’ve had many excellent mature men and women employed with us as well. They have helped contribute to the growth of our business. With the change in our business, so too will be the change in our human resource needs. It has been a great privilege to work with so many amazing employees. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
Over the years my Dad, brothers and myself have been involved with many farm organizations. These organizations gave us the opportunity to network with the farming community to gain knowledge and experience to help us become a leader in the industry. We are very thankful to be a part of these groups including the Toronto Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Ontario Berry Growers Association, Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association and North American Direct Farm Marketers Association to name a few. I would like to acknowledge those who I met along the way, the friendships that were made and thank you for being able to share ideas and learn new opportunities and techniques which helped us build our business.
While growing this business we needed help along the way. There are many large and small companies as well as individuals who we have worked with and relied on to supply us with excellent products and services. I would like to say a big thank you to all of you. For those suppliers we no longer require after this season, I wish only the best for you, your families and your businesses. Those who we will work with in the future, we look forward to our continued relationships.
To the local Community of Cedar Grove, I send out a warm thank you. Some community members work at the farm, some have supplied us with products to sell in the Farm Shop and some farmers continue to work with us through farming techniques. As our business grew, so too did the pressure on our roadways. At times the local roads around the farm can become very congested with car loads of customers coming and going for a day out on the farm. I’m sure this is an annoyance to the locals; however your support in allowing this disruption is greatly appreciated. Cedar Grove is my home and I’m proud to be a long time farmer in this community.
A family farm business is one life’s best offerings. Where else can you live, work and play with the best and most loved people on earth; your parents, your siblings, your nieces and nephews, your kids and most of all, your spouse. My wife Suzanne is the most wonderful person I know. Not from a farming background, she married me in the late 80’s and became a farmer’s wife and a huge part of the success of what Whittamore’s Farm is today. Her skills and hard work ethic has kept this business on track. From partnering with me in business, raising our two amazing boys (now young men), looking after our beautiful home and keeping us fed, you are an inspiration to us all. I am one lucky man.
This is not the end of Whittamore’s Farm. As we get ready close our gates one final time this coming November, I`m reflecting on the past and pondering what will come next. I’ve certainly enjoyed myself operating a retail farming business that I`ve loved my whole life. Growing up on this farm has made me feel very fortunate for all the things I have. Being able to offer the public a chance to play in my back yard has been a great gift. Mike my brother and I plan to continue to grow crops on the land that we work today. In the future we may sow different seeds, but we will continue with the love and passion that we have for this land. It has been a privilege and I am grateful for all that I have experienced in the past and I look forward to the new rows ahead.
Have a day and keep smiling,