If you are in the DC area, a trip to Thanksgiving Farms with your troop should definitely be on your list if you are earning the Junior Gardener or Cadette Trees badges. Or, if you simply want to celebrate a woman owned business. 👱♀️👩👩🏻🦱👧🏼
They have a very powerful story.
Today is International Women’s Day!
Did you know that Thanksgiving Farms is a woman owned and operated farm and garden center?
Our mother, Timothea, was one of the first women in Frederick County to receive a business loan in the late 70’s. She received the loan as a minority. A woman, at the time, was a minority. To give a loan to a woman was rare. To give a loan to a woman to start a farm was unheard of. However, she was extremely thankful. That is why she named her business, Thanksgiving Farms.
Her loan was 1/10th the size of her fellow male farmer friends. When she went with Horace Jackson, the only male who believed in our mom and also happened to have been African American, to an auction to buy farm equipment, the other guys thought it was funny to run up the price of the archaic equipment she could afford.
Long story short. We still use the equipment and her fellow male farmers went bankrupt.
Growing up on a farm was not for the weak.
My sisters and I undertook tremendous responsibility uncommon for our young age and s*x.
Darby being the oldest, has been in the store since she was 16 years old. For those that remember our first tiny farm stand, will also remember her taking care of our five younger sisters and brothers too. To this day, the store is more than a brick and mortar, it is her life. Thankfully, she also manages the dreaded paperwork too! 😘
Melanie and I had a childhood unlike most. It was labor intensive and a thrilling ride at the same time.
You see, in 1983 we almost lost the farm due to a horrible drought. Our mother decided we needed to buy wholesale vegetables and fruit to resell if we were going to keep the farm.
At 13, my sister Melanie got up at 2am, went to Jessup, a huge wholesale vegetable depot. This is where she bought a load, came home by 7am and then went to school. This was every Thursday night/Friday morning for years. Our dad drove the box truck over, then slept in the cab while she bought the load. He had to go to his job at Geico, in the morning too. I stayed home from school most Fridays to pick vegetables for market.
We had 2 farmer’s markets in Baltimore and 3 farmer’s markets in Dc.
We were on the road 4 days a weeks. I missed 80 days in Fourth grade because I had to go to market or pick vegetables.
At 13, I received my own farmer’s market in Silver Spring. I was given a driver, truck and load with instructions of what I needed to make.
The biggest farmer’s market that had the greatest affect on Mel and I was RFK. RFK was in DC in parking lot 6 at the stadium. This was not the feel-good markets most think of today. This was a dangerous, exciting place. This was a year round market. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing or a hundred degrees. You went. It didn’t matter.
We took 2 box trucks (over)loaded with produce. We were on the street by 5am and got the hell off the street by the time it was dark. I checked everyone out myself. I had a line at least 20 deep. All I saw for hours was black hands and money. It was insane. I had a knife in my back pocket, a knife on my table, a knife on the running board where the scale hung from the truck’s mirror and several knives in the side door. Our mother stood at the side door and just looked for thieves.
At 14, this was the most awesome and exhausting experience ever.
We worked all day selling over a tractor trailer of produce, then packed up, drove home in the dark, unloaded 3 truck, our dad was at a different market in Baltimore, unto one truck. We were usually done by 9pm. Then get up at 3am to go to a farmer’s market in Baltimore to do it again.
Melanie and I have been robbed.
I’ve been punched in the stomach by a homeless man.
We seen dead bodies pulled from the river.
Mel has been threaten with death by a few drug addicts.
Melanie once caught a thief trying to steal our mom’s pocketbook from the cab of the truck. She grabbed him, brought him around to the selling area, threw him on the ground then stood on him until the police arrive.
To say we were tender sweet children would be a lie.
We were rough around the edges. Lol
However, I would never trade this experience for anything. It taught us so much. We witnessed so much. The vibe was incredible.
Because we were the only women doing this, we were were treated well by our loyal African American customers. They called us “Mamma and her girls!”.
Honestly we would be nowhere without our loving African American women customers who understood the battle we were fighting.
Our fellow male farmers went to great lengths to try to put us down, tell us girls couldn’t do what we were doing. Some tried diligently to get us kicked out of markets. It was fun to watch them try and then crush them at market by selling the most. Good times.
We took all the profit from the Market Days and built the Thanksgiving Farms everyone is familiar with.
We have mellowed A LOT.
But we never lost that drive. The drive that pushes us to never settle. We are constantly looking to improve.
We are so happy we no longer have to go to Farmer’s market. Ugh! We’re not young any more. Plus those days are gone. Sadly.
Stefanie has been an honorary sister for almost 25 years. She is the most reliable, hard working woman. She is truly family!
We still have some hustle left. We use that energy to grow our CSA and garden center and brewery and........and...lol. Who knows what we’re going to do next.
A big thank you for our mother for giving us this awesome opportunity.
Happy International Women’s Day.