“I also,” Leslie explains, “get the opportunity to help with research and experimentation, which I love to do. This ranges from soil testing to leaf collecting to monitoring experimental fields of plants not yet intended for production. I might be tying tomatoes to stakes one day and harvesting strawberries another.”
When asked how much she enjoys her job, she shares how she never wakes up in the morning thinking, “Oh, yuck. I don’t want to go to work today” – and she hasn’t always been able to say that. Earlier in life, she sold insurance and then she transitioned into the banking industry where she worked for nine years as the branch manager. Then, about three years ago, the branch where she worked closed.
“I took the summer off,” she says, “but then it was time to look for a job. So, I put my five-inch heels back on and started interviewing in Cleveland, mostly for sales jobs, with my enthusiasm continuing to fade with each drive into Cleveland. Then I started to think about how I like food and how I like to cook, and I approached The Chef’s Garden, located just three miles from my house, to see if they were hiring.”
Leslie worked as the receptionist for three months before beginning her work in seed purchasing. “I’m very lucky to be here,” she says, “going outside where plants are growing. It’s so fulfilling and I have so much more freedom now than when I sat and worried about how I’d reach my next financial goal in banking. My five-inch heels are now stored in totes and I wear jeans and work boots instead.”
She admits there was a learning curve in her job at The Chef’s Garden and she continually educates herself on farm seed specifics. Her biggest challenge? Learning the Latin names of the plants they grow. “The end goal, though,” she says, “is always the same: to grow plants that fit the requirements of the chefs we serve.”
Leslie was willing to answer five fun questions, and here are her answers.
“There is so much camaraderie,” she says. “There are people from multiple cultures, and people with differing personalities and perspectives, but we are all striving for the same end result. I have met some amazing people.”
“Oh, beets. For sure. I love beets . . . oh, and kale. You can do so much with both of those. And, can I add Brussel sprouts? I eat those raw, and also use them in soups and salads . . . I guess that’s more than one, but my husband agrees with me about our amazing carrots. He now won’t eat store bought carrots because there is such a huge difference in flavor . . . oh, maybe I should have said cauliflower. I love our cauliflower.”
“I’m obsessive compulsive about order – except you wouldn’t know that if you looked at my closet.”
“I’d be a tomato because I’m tough on the outside, but soft and sweet inside.”