The Day Begins
In his green Carhart jacket, aviator sunglasses and old baseball cap, Rusty Lee, owner of Lee Farms LLC., begins the day’s work on his 20-acre vegetable farm in Truxton, Mo. “I usually begin the day getting the plan together and organizing the day’s work,” Lee said.
Picking and Packaging
Lee and employees begin the morning during harvest handpicking vegetables. “We pick only what items we need to fill for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) orders,” Lee said. The employees then package the vegetables into their boxes, pictured above, for pick-ups and drop-offs.
After loading his truck with CSA orders, Lee travels twice a week to St. Louis to drop them off. Since 2009, one of his many stops is at Old North St. Louis. In the fall of 2008, Lee Farms began working with Old North to figure out a way to get fresh produce to residents. “The desire in the community is what made this happen,” Lee said. “There is lots of satisfaction knowing that I had a small part in this effort.” Old North is still flourishing and now has a grocery co-op in the community for residents.
Lee and employees also box orders for Ole Tyme Produce Inc. Lee Farms LLC has worked with Ole Tyme for many years. “It is a good fit for our farm because we have branched out to serving restaurants through working with Ole Tyme,” Lee said.
After harvest is completed, Lee hops aboard his tractor and drives down the gravel road back to the field to begin recycling the black plastic used to grow his vegetables and zinnias.
Lee’s strong, weathered, dirt-covered hands work swiftly while tightening a bolt before going to the field. “Each year you have to make a few adjustments,” Lee said.
Lee mows the weeds as close to the black plastic as possible. This helps when the plow goes over the surface the second time to loosen the soles of the plastic around the edges.
Disking and Plowing
As the end of the workday nears, Lee continues to disk and plow the black plastic. “We will continue to do this for the month,” Lee said. After all of the plastic is out of the field, a recycling truck will come to collect it.
Getting to Know You
Lee and his wife, Teresa, enjoy their daily role farming vegetables and maintaining relationships with CSA customers and consumers. They host farm tours, network through Facebook and educate others through grocery store and restaurant appearances. “Many people say it is neat for them to know their farmer, but I think it is neat for me to know my consumer,” Lee said.