4th Installment of...
By Andrea Gram
As Inventory Manager, Leanna Barth works behind the scenes to ensure a ready supply of fresh farm cuisine for all of our customers -- whether Buying Club Members, restaurants, retailers or folks visiting the farm. With regard to the Buying Club, specifically: if Sheri is the designer and coach, I'm the order pitcher and Teresa is the money catcher, Leanna is our hardest-hitter, hands down!
Before each “load-up” begins, she and her crew gather all the crates of meat from the freezers and set them out on tables in our sales building. When they're ready, I start pitching the sales orders through a small, rectangular office window – like oragami baseballs. With the crack of her bat, Leanna collects each item in the order, weighs and calls it out, and then packs it into a cooler.
From there, I fill in the weights, tally up the delivery cost, record which cooler the order can be found in and convert the sales order to an invoice. Voila! Your pre-sold order is ready for our runner to deliver to over 25 bases in Virginia and Maryland. That's a lot of batting you all and Leanna rarely hits a foul ball, despite an occasional off-pitch or two. In fact, she and her crew get up awfully early to fetch all that frozen meat and it's often so cold in the sales building that they need to wear gloves to keep their fingers from freezing. Yet, I never hear any complaining.
I'll never forget when I first started my position at Polyface; Leanna's little boy couldn't have been more than 6 months old. There she was – bright and early each morning – poised to play major league ball with an infant strapped to her back. It was incredibly inspiring to watch this new mom hit one home run after another in between jostling a baby around and patiently offering guidance to those in training.
Did I mention how much fun I have playing ball with these women? After each order is packed and the cooler called out, I call it back for confirmation. Each time I hear an authoritative “correct”. Sometimes more than one person says it simultaneously. That's right, I hear “correct” about 100x a week on average -- like some kind of heavenly choir!! It seems God designed my position with the best psycho-therapy available built right into the job! I jest and remind these fair farmer-femmes that they're welcome to replace “correct” with “you're soon to be rich and famous” or “my, you're looking younger every day” or "you fill-in-the-blank with whatever brain-washing you fancy”!!! ;)
No, it isn't at all uncommon for me to get the giggles at the end of a long load-up, which tend to spread like wild-fire -- especially when my two favorite apprentices are around: Alicia Loony and Jessica Piwko. Wait, they're the only two. Well, never mind that; they're awesome, they're leaving this week and I'm going to miss them sorely. Fortunately, Leanna's not going anywhere and will stick around to help counter my rather excitable personality with her calm, grounding presence. I feel certain that her focus will remain sharp and her movement steady, as I've come to rely upon.
When she's not at the Farm working to bring this extraordinary food to your family's dinner table, Leanna's busy at home with her own family -- another baby on the way! One of the sweetest things they like to do together is tap Maple trees for top-grade syrup, which is sold here at the Farm Store.. much to our happy-pancake-mornings!