Shannon Varley Transitions

January 03rd, 2007

Five years ago this January, I pulled into Frederick with a U-Haul and moved into my first apartment to take my first “real” salaried job after graduate school…I recall that my first weeks of work at Red Wiggler coincided with one of the bigger snow storms in recent MD history….(we haven’t even had a month of hard freeze this winter making that snow storm and that winter seem like a million years ago)…I remember a huge snowdrift lapped up against the sliding glass door at the old farm on Peachtree Road that prevented us using it for a long time that winter.

For many of you that don’t know my story, I came to Red Wiggler by sheer coincidence and happenstance. I happened to cross-reference Red Wiggler during a research project for a neighbor back in my hometown in PA whose son had developmental disabilities while also job-hunting for a job that was far from the farm management position Red Wiggler was advertising for that Fall… I happened to find both quite separately from each other. Thinking that Red Wiggler had been looking for a farm manager for some time, I overnighted my resume just in case the job still hadn’t been filled. Woody still likes telling that story- that my resume arrived in overnight mail. He also likes telling the story that I arrived at the interview with a thick photo album documenting my farming and CSA experience (just in case they didn’t believe me). When I arrived at the old farm on Peachtree Road, I didn’t need to be convinced that I would feel fulfilled in every possible way if I was offered the job. And I was right.

Just as I arrived in those fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants conditions, my tenure at Red Wiggler and in my personal life in the last five years have had the same kind of funny, uncanny flavor that caused my being here in the first place. If you would have told me five years ago what could possibly happen in the next five years time, I would have never believed you. But you couldn’t have convinced me of any other path when I arrived for my interview in the Fall of 2002 at Red Wiggler on Peach Tree Road. I remember standing in my parents kitchen back in PA recounting the interview at Red Wiggler earlier that day and feeling the most complete sense of joy and belonging at being offered the job. And having a very solid and strong conviction that taking the job at Red Wiggler was exactly what I was to be doing at that particular moment in my life.

If I had to think of one word to describe my tenure at Red Wiggler over the last five years, I would use the word, “transition.” I arrived as Red Wiggler was on the threshold of major change and growth. We moved to Ovid Hazen Wells, increased the CSA significantly, moved CSA to all on-farm pick-up, acquired more full-time employees, and increased the number of growers and volunteers by leaps and bounds. And about a million other things too many to mention. And while much of that growth if still happening, my first few years coincided with what I believe was the beginning of the “future” Red Wiggler. I think this was one of the best, most educational times to be a part of a small, non-profit. While there has been an obvious amount of reward and learning and positive movement in the last 5 years, you can’t have those without very poignant periods of struggle and re-thinking and hard work. And those are the moments you learn the most about a job and about yourself.

One of the things I treasure the most from these last five years are the friendships and relationships that any one of us who is involved with Red Wiggler has a chance to establish. From customers since that first summer on Peach Tree Road to the board to the growers and the volunteers, I consider myself very blessed. What a fine group of people working together in different spheres to support the basic mission of Red Wiggler. That is one of the things that makes Red Wiggler so special…it creates an opportunity to bring so many different people from so many different backgrounds together to work toward a common good and a common goal. And that is where I have found the true meaning of what we do at Red Wiggler. I never questioned the meaningfulness of my work. What a wonderful feeling that is. Thank you to all of you who support and have supported Red Wiggler over the last 11 years.

I write to say “goodbye” for now and “thank you” to all of you that have blessed my life through Red Wiggler as I prepare to have my second baby. I resigned in December to stay at home for a little while, be present for my family, and get my bearings. My life has been richer, fuller, and more blessed for having overnighted that resume back in 2002.- SV 01-02-07

Shannon- Thank you so very much- Woody

1 Comment on “Shannon Varley Transitions

  1. Shannon,
    Know that you have a gift of making people feel welcome, special, and useful: what a wonderful feature for someone at Red Wiggler!

    The incredible staff you leave behind at Red Wiggler will always remember, in their hearts, the big-hearted, open-minded young woman who showed up and lightened up the world of Red Wiggler.

    At hospice, we learn to say goodbye as if you will never see each other again. And if you do, well it’s a wonderful surprise!

    Good luck with your growing family
    and with every other adventure you may try in your future.

    Peace, Mickey

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