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People Behind The Plants: Brady Sinclair, Assistant Grower

This edition of People Behind The Plants is special because it's also the official announcement of an important promotion in our greenhouse. Meet Brady Sinclair, the first "homegrown" Assistant Grower in the history of Backyard Farms!

Brady began his career at Backyard Farms in the summer of 2008. During the hot summer months, our heat loving tomato plants grow even faster than their normal foot per week pace. So much so, our personal gardeners need help in order to keep up with all the extra pruning and deleafing required to keep the plants' energy focused on producing tomatoes. To make sure this essential work gets done, we hire anywhere from 30-50 temporary employees each summer and that's exactly how Brady started working at Backyard Farms. "I thought it was just going to be a summer job," Brady says with a grin, "but I fell in love with it."

HOW HE MOVED UP

Within 2-3 weeks of starting his part-time job at Backyard Farms, Brady moved into crop care where he began to learn how to care for plants beyond pruning and deleafing. When summer ended a few months later, Brady stayed and became a full-time employee. He'd spend the next three years as a crop care worker before working as a picker. While he enjoyed picking, Brady realized crop care was his true passion. Brady specialized in maintaining our irrigation and fertilizer systems before being promoted to Assistant Manager. His eventual promotion to Crop Care Manager came with some weekend duties where he supervised the local high school students who work for us on Saturdays doing the same deleafing and pruning work that Brady did when he started.

As Crop Care Manager, Brady also had the opportunity to supervise Kelsey Fabian from WCSH Channel 6 Portland when she spent a day at the greenhouse for her "Kelsey Lends a Hand" segment.

Brady did so well talking on camera with Kelsey, he was a natural choice to appear in the video below created by Erin Ovalle and her team for Maine Life.

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT BACKYARD FARMS

"Everything about this place is interesting to me," Brady says. "I'm always learning something new because the plants always need different things at different times of the year." Brady is also quick to mention how much he enjoys the entire growing process. "This whole place is alive and I'm not just talking about the plants," he explains. "From the bumblebees to the beneficial insects, everything we do and every decision we make has an impact on our ecosystem. It's a big responsibility but I love it."

Brady also loves the training and education he's received throughout his time at Backyard Farms. He's working towards his Bachelor's degree on his own time while getting all the hands-on experience he can handle as he walks the rows with Head Grower Tony Stevens. "Tony is a terrific mentor," Brady explains. "I learn from him all day long. Sometimes he's telling me what he sees, other times I tell him what I see and he lets me know if I've missed anything. The more I see and experience, the better equipped I'll be to react in the future."

A TYPICAL DAY FOR BRADY

Every morning, Brady arrives at the greenhouse at 5:30. The first thing he does is log in to the climate computer to review the current temperature and humidity level in order to determine the irrigation strategy for the day. From there, Brady looks at the labor schedule. Here, his job is to "put people in the right places to succeed" in order to cover for employees who called in sick or need extra help getting their work done. With the workday planned, Brady heads into the greenhouse: "Computers are great, but there's no substitute for getting into the rows and feeling what the plants are feeling." In addition to making sure the greenhouse conditions match the reports from the computer, Brady also doublechecks the quality of each crop care worker's plants. "I'm always looking under leaves to make sure the good bugs are keeping the bad bugs under control and the plants themselves are as healthy as they can be."

IT'S NOT JUST A JOB, IT'S A LIFESTYLE

As Assistant Grower, Brady is on a three-week rotation with Tony and Assistant Greenhouse Manager Megan Murphy. That means every three weeks, Brady spends Saturday and Sunday in the greenhouse in addition to his regular Monday thru Friday schedule. During these weeks, Brady is also on call. In the event of an equipment failure or sudden change in temperature at the greenhouse, Brady is automatically notified so he can assess the situation and determine whether or not it requires his immediate attention. "This job isn't for everyone. You have to REALLY care about what we're doing and be passionate about it. If you have that and you're willing to put in the time and effort, there's no limit to how far you can go in this line of work. I'm definitely living proof of that."

Do you think you have what it takes to follow Brady's career path? Check out our Careers Page for a list of jobs available right now at Backyard Farms.

Brady is one of over 200 real people working hard at every step of the growing, picking and packing process at Backyard Farms. Stay tuned for another People Behind The Plants feature next month!