Diary of a Monday Morning at TGA
Through the hustle and bustle of life, we sometimes forget to pause and appreciate the accomplishments and joy of a simple day’s work. This is especially true over at The Good Acre during harvest season, so our Wholesale Manager, Steve, took some time to document a standard summer day — Monday, August 2nd, 2021 to be exact– in the warehouse. We also had a talented photographer, TJ Turner, capture some images to accompany Steve’s story.
To put the day into perspective, we received over 10,000 lbs of produce, 19 different crops, translating to nearly $30,000 in sales to 10 wholesale customers. Those customers included Appetite for Change for their Community Cooks meal box program and Second Harvest Heartland, as part of our partnership to address the hunger divide. This activity has an undeniable impact on the dozens of farmers we work with to fulfill orders week in and week out. We’re glad to be here to do this work, we hope you enjoy this peek into a busy Monday in our warehouse.
7:20 am – We open the warehouse at 8 am, and I got here early to set up, check coolers, and double-check the list of incoming grower orders. The open space is quiet and still, serene before the hustle of the coming day. Most of our deliveries come early in the week, and this week was going to be a doozy. Summer produce is peaking, and growers are running hard to keep up with the harvest.
7:50 am – The loading dock doorbell chimes, and the first growers are here 10 minutes early. The first delivery to come in is 10 cases of kale for Second Harvest Heartland from Phenli Thao’s farm. Next in, Choua Yang enters through the side door to put labels on her beans, cukes, chard, and zukes, and to have Warehouse Assistant, Rachel, check temps and sign her invoice. Rachel is two deliveries into the morning and the doorbell is ringing again.
8:20am – Mhonpaj Lee’s dad brings herbs for the Hmong postpartum chicken soup that Regions hospital offers to new moms, and Wa Kou Hang (left) unloads cukes, zukes, and tomatoes. It has been an exceptional summer for zucchini, we’ve been shipping full pallets since early July.
9:15am – The morning starts to blur and we are in the groove, answering the dock door, taking calls from growers, updating orders, and tracking down extra cases to fulfill orders.
10-ish – I am creating a new order packing checklist on the fly, a new tool to help us keep track of incoming orders on hectic receiving days. The warehouse is humming, pallet jacks rattling, and the forklift beeping as it brings down a load of boxes for next week.
Sometime late morning – Shoua and Nao Xiong (above on the left) pull up to the new delivery ramp by the warehouse back door with their second load of 50 cases of sweet potato leaves, a prized commodity for food shelves providing fresh produce to Asian and East African communities. Naton Vang (above on the right) has delivered something every week this season, and he unloads his fourth or fifth shipment of bunched kale bound for Second Harvest Heartland.
Lunchtime – Rachel and I grab a few bites, she updates the receiving log while I check grower contracts and look ahead to next week. Rachel receives a delivery from Appetite For Change, a beautiful six-case order of zukes. Then Maika Vang shows up with onions. Lonah from Dawn2Dusk and Kilimo Minnesota, an incubator farm, stacks zukes and kale. We talk briefly about the weather and how the farmers at Kilimo are doing.
Mid-afternoon – Farm share boxes are getting built and staged for assembly tomorrow, and a few growers have yet to deliver, but the pace is slowing. Lenny Xiong passes 30 cases of zukes up from the bed of his truck to a pallet we lay on the edge of the loading dock. When his truck is empty we check in on next week’s order, him standing on the Tundra’s tailgate, me crouching in the dock door. The sun is hot, and you can feel the cool warehouse behind.
Andrea from Shared Ground checks in farm truck loads from Elizabeth Montecinos from Santa Rosa Farm (left) and Javier Garcia’s brother from Agua Gorda, and the Shared Ground order goes into Cooler 3 – tomatillos, zucchini, cabbage, and the first cured onions of the season. Cabbage isn’t sizing up due to dry conditions, and we are seeing lots of medium-size heads right now.
Good enough, the last two orders are scheduled to come in early tomorrow, and we are in a good spot for Tuesday. The orders we have are stacked and pallets are ready to be wrapped, labeled, and staged for the first truck to pick up in the morning. Time to wrap it up and go over the morning’s plan one more time. I head for the car and take a minute to sit in the sun. The warehouse is chilly and humid, the afternoon’s hot sun feels amazing. Time to head home, rest up, and do it again tomorrow. We will miss these busy summer days when the snow starts to fly.
Written by Wholesale Manager, Steve Young-Burns. Photos by TJ Turner.