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People Behind the Plants | Nathan Gross

The newest member of our People Behind The Plants highlight reel is Nathan Gross. Nathan plays a vital role at Backyard Farms is vital, Picker. That's right. Every tomato grown inside our greenhouse is eventually handpicked by a human being.

Pickers like Nathan are Backyard Farms' first inspectors in our quality control process. By placing a picked tomato in a box with red ink, Nathan gives that tomato a chance to end up in your favorite grocery store. By placing a picked tomato in a green box, Nathan is deciding that a perfectly great tasting tomato will be better sliced in a sandwich or chopped into a salad at your favorite restaurant instead of sold whole at the supermarket. And if a tomato just doesn't have what it takes to have our logo on it, Nathan can send it straight to the compost bin where the water from each tomato will be extracted and treated by the Anson-Madison Water District.

Nathan currently lives in Skowhegan with his fiancé and 5, yes FIVE, dogs. Prior to his role at Backyard Farms, Nathan was a sales associate at Fastenal where he would service places like our greenhouse for safety and maintenance items.

What a typical day looks like for Nathan

Each day, he is responsible for 20-25 rows but usually picks upwards of 30-35 rows. Nathan has his own picking house that he maintains and also helps out with the rest of the team ond days when his team leader isn’t on site.

What does he do outside of the greenhouse

On his days off, Nathan likes to take his dogs for walks and hikes. Some of his favorite hikes are Tumbledown Mountain and trails in Kingfield and Carrabassett Valley!

His favorite part about working at Backyard Farms

Not only does he like the day to day work, Nathan loves the amount of opportunity he’s given within the company to grow.

Best tip for those growing their own tomatoes at home

“Tomatoes are a heat loving plant” he said. Nathan highlights the importance of watering them and providing just the right amount of sunlight.

One thing Nathan is most proud of

“My personal growth” he said. Nathan talks at length about how much hard work and dedication goes into his job, especially in the summer when the greenhouse gets hotter and the work becomes harder. Despite all that, Nathan is always setting personal goals  and challenging himself to be faster and more efficient without losing sight of our #1 priority -- the quality of our tomatoes.

The one thing he wants people to know about Backyard Farms

Nathan says that Backyard Farms is a great place to work, “They really take care of their employees whether it’s the 401(k) plan, family fun days, the great benefits, or the outings we have in the summer.”

Advice for anyone who wants to become a Picker

Nathan highlights the importance of being able to multitask and assist in crop care when needed. “Long hours are common, so be prepared to work!” Nathan said.

Nathan’s favorite tomato recipe

His favorite way to enjoy any of the tomatoes is in a pasta salad. Tough to argue with that!