the gammie family
2nd Generation: Bill and Jacque, 3rd Generation: Ben and Brooke, 4th Generation: Payton and Henry; Resident Pups London and Walter. Photo by Thomas and Thomas Photography, Spring Bloom 2015.
BILL (CHIP) GAMMIE
Farmer, Mentor, Leader
Our General. Bill has been leading the Quarry Hill Team into battle for the better part of 36 years. While his management practices are sometimes suspect, there is no other grower in the state of Ohio with a more genuine desire to make each and every customer who walk in the barn feel special. You know this because he will remember your name… and your children’s name… and where you took your wife to dinner after your last visit to the farm. This philosophy has become a cornerstone for the culture here at Quarry Hill. While Bill’s Triumph TR6 ragtop sports car rests quietly in the barn untouched for decades, he is at peace sputtering along in the farm’s somewhat homely 1952 Ford 8N tractor scouting the upcoming harvest just before the sun sets (no lights on this tractor since 1978)…a testament to his disinterest in earthly possessions while truly being driven in the pursuit of the perfect peach.
Every reason Bill is here
Behind every successful business is a strong woman. Jacque has endured the struggle to balance farm and family while remaining committed to her children, her husband… and the farm. In addition to being the backbone for their two children (Ben and Adrianne), Jacque followed her own career as a home economics teacher. It was by only through her stability that the farm survived all those lean years. She is still waiting for Bill to return the favor with a new stone patio at the house. Now in retirement, when not seen at the Orchard Market, Jacque is leading new developments for the local library, giving graciously of her time at the school she retired from (Vermilion) and manicuring the grounds at the farmstead north of the barns.
Heir to the Throne?
Every legacy needs someone to challenge its longevity and existence. Having spread his wings in travels abroad and through the American West for just over a decade, Ben returned home in 2013 with his beautiful bride, two loving children, a dog, and a step-cat. His return ensured the farm’s endurance for another generation… and that his fly fishing gear will be tucked in a corner of the barn for the foreseeable future. Ben’s enthusiasm for orcharding can only perhaps be matched by his inexperience. The philosophy with which you approach farming as a summer job (thinking primarily about football practice or your homecoming date) is very different from the attitude he must now bring to the table, having a mortgage to pay and a payroll to meet. His father’s greatest challenge is to ground Ben’s lofty aspirations in the harsh reality of fruit farming. Ben is guilty of dreaming big… a characteristic he says embraces the entrepreneurial spirit of any successful farm or business. Time will tell.
Better half of Ben
A dream fulfilled starts with finding your life partner…..and finding a career you’re passionate about. Brooke fell in love with Ben AND the idea of farming over cold beers on weekend camping trips with friends in Austin, Texas; a special City near and dear to her heart which served as her late-20’s self-discovery adventure and home to her career as a Professional Civil Engineer. 10 years of engineering, two kids, and the corporate hamster-wheel lead Brooke and Ben to pack up life and move back to the farm in 2013. In addition to assuming accounting, marketing, Farm to School, Seasonal Gift Boxes, and business development duties ON FARM, she runs the family household OFF FARM. Brooke is also passionate in the kitchen and thrives on feeding her family healthy meals. She finds fulfillment and purpose in what she does knowing for certain this is her new home. An evening watching the sunset with Ben and the kids sitting on an old hay wagon provide her a wealth unmatched by any bank account. Please feel free to offer your encouragement should you see her at the farm.
BARRY (CHUCK) FREEMAN
Get ‘er Done
We can say without hesitation that Quarry Hill Orchards would cease to operate without Chuck. He started his tenure here at the farm when his only mode of transportation was a bike. In the 21 years that have followed, Chuck has come to know every aspect of the operation better than anyone save Bill himself. When we need calm, collected thoughts from someone who can wrench on equipment, we go to Chuck. And during harvest time, Chuck kicks it into high gear managing orchard crews as well as assisting with wholesale production. If you don’t happen to see him during your visit, know that he is helping manage things behind the scenes so we have great fruit to bring to you, the customer.
The Farming Artist
No other apple farm we’re aware of can boast their own college professor, published author and independent film maker… all rolled into a neat little package she calls being a “farming artist”. Becky joined the team just 3 years ago and has quickly grasped all the nuances of fruit farming. Bill must be on his toes at the beginning of the day, because Becky often arrives at work with a list of questions about our growing practices and is armed with works cited from the intellectuals at Cornell University or Michigan State. She has adopted our young apple tree development program and is helping to implement a rigorous training system to ensure productivity. She also brings a knack for growing veggies and pumpkins that we are taking advantage of. Please strike up a conversation with Becky if you see her around the farm. It will be enlightening.
Our Little Sis
It is safe to say that Ms. Olivia has grown up here on the farm. Over the past 6 seasons, we have seen her emerge a confident young woman bound for a career in nursing as she currently works her way through school. This is a far cry from the teenage girl that first walked onto the farm. We can attribute that to a constant mentoring from Bill and Becky… coupled with constant teasing from Chuck and the orchard boys. Olivia can now lead a crew of her own and run the retail market with a similar patience and attention to detail that Bill has. Unfortunately, she also has inherited a talent for playing bumper cars with various farm implements. The decision to put her in the fork lift seat is debatable. If Bill or Ben didn’t break it… ask Olivia. Regardless, she is a joy to have on the farm and we will try our best to not let her slip away.
Our Breath of Fresh Air
Most of the time, Ms. Sarah can be found amidst the high society of Norwalk, Ohio… working at finest salon in town as their most coveted facial treatment specialist. But for some reason, the girl needs to slum it out here in the sticks with us farmin’ folk every once in a while. And man… is she good when we can have her! Her knack is organization, dogging the details and supporting our retail, Farm to School, and gift box efforts… all with this dry humor that makes you do a double-take at some of her comments. We tried desperately to find a full-time position that would suite her talents, but alas… her glamorous day job beckons. We have learned not to question too much: her boyfriend is a former MMA fighter. Brooke’s sanity would we lost without her, and she’s still trying to figure out how to trade apples for facials on a regular basis. When she’s NOT working, you wont find her; she’ll be on the lake, in the woods or the garden, at a concert or thrift shopping in no mans land. She lives for daily adventures, even a simple country drive. Music, food, family, and friends are her sources of motivation.
EFRAIN (LOU) RODIRGUEZ
Lean Horse for a Long Race
Lou joined us straight from his motherland in Mexico at the age of 17, not knowing much English at all but having a strong work ethic and a desire to find a permanent fit north of the border. Lou befriended Rita Holler (the best bar keep around and work horse up at the Winery) and her family during his first few seasons. He was soon conjugating verbs like he’d been here since birth. He has taken on every task here at the farm and leads our pruning and harvest crews in the orchard. Lou knows every tree on the ponderosa and communicates with Bill, Ben and Chuck on critical tasks needing attention throughout the year. Lou found true love here on the farm as well… marrying Melissa, one of the gals that works in our market, during the winter of 2014.
The Real Workers
While there is a revolving door of great folks who come in on a seasonal basis to help us out, we have been able to lean on the Rocha family and the Trevino family for our work in the orchard for the majority of the past 36 years. The Rocha brothers have been a big part of the harvest crew recently and have also brought a covey of sons and wives to assist in the pack house. Domingo “Liar” Trevino and his sons have returned to us this season after about a decade away. But they have not missed a step and we would put Liar up against anyone in the state in a contest of speed, despite a few more gray hairs since we last saw him.
Ms. Lidia is the better half of Poncho Rocha (see above photo… guy on the left) and has been part of the team for going on 12+ seasons. It has been just recently that Quarry Hill has tapped into her true potential: she joined Becky at one of our summer farmer’s markets and developed somewhat of a cult following while there. Back at the farm, in the pack house, she helps keep all the youngsters in line that help grade apples. Lidia also keeps a small flock of Bantam and Golden Buff chickens at her house of which provide fresh eggs to the boys if they have been on good behavior.
JOHN AND TIFF
Future Farmers, Together?
Quarry Hill can lay claim to sparking many a love story over the years, but few are as sweet or as unwavering as that of John Rufo and Tiffany Taylor. They both found us in high school and now have each worked their way through college (well, Tiff is almost there). Tiff will soon be a biologist and John works for the local Soil & Water Conservation District. We are graced with their presence on occasion and it is always a pleasure. The pair work our farmer’s market at Crocker Park on Saturdays. Tiff has excelled in her biology studies and often educates us as to the natural phenomena related to our apple trees. Bill has become a true mentor to John and coached him in the art of farming so much so that John now has his own fleet of equipment for row crops. We very much want to see him a permanent part of the team someday and look forward to the point at which we can turn our corn and bean rental ground over to him.
PAYTON, HENRY, and beatrice GAMMIE
Our Little Knuckleheads
It is through the eyes of a child that we truly experience life’s curiosities and unrestrained emotion. And the 4th generation of Gammies on the farm lives up to that expectation. Payton and Henry are often with us at the farm. Ben finds comfort in Henry’s favorite words… “Daddy Barn!!” and “Tractor Ride!!” and “Peach…nut inside!!” Brooke is at peace with her departure from big city Phoenix, as she realizes how happy Payton and Henry are to be together with Mommy and Daddy so much. It won’t be long before these two knuckleheads will be checking you out at the cash register! Then we were overjoyed to bring our third little munchkin into the world this past November… Beatrice Evelyn Gammie. She will be our celebrated baby on the farm this season… Brooke says having a baby around will help sell produce. Ben is skeptical.
WALTER & HUDSON
Every good team has a mascot, we’ve got two. They are more than a man’s best friends. Despite their affinity for Mason Road and all vehicles traveling thereby, Hudson and Walter are loved by all that get to know them, even those customers who find a piece of fruit missing from their basket. We realize having dogs on the farm is a polarizing concept; we appreciate everyone’s understanding of the important role that they play. There are no employees known by our customers more than these two four-legged sales “people”. Hudson is the newest canine on the team. As for Walter, we’re not sure where his name came from or where his intelligence has gone, but we love him none-the-less. If we may, a moment of silence for those friends that have come and gone (PJ… Webster… Rudy…London). London’s namesake hails from the dusty pine planks of Texas Hill Country dance halls, a place not far from where she was born….