From the Lucky Clays Fivestand, our founder Judy Carpenter surveyed the scene: Neighbors and friends exchanging hugs and handshakes, children playing tag and turning cartwheels in the grass, while their parents and friends enjoy an evening out. Strings of electric lights between the trees on either side of Juneberry’s natural amphitheater add a joyous vibe to the venue, a feeling which the aroma of barbequed pork only confirms.
This was the perfect summer evening at Juneberry Ridge. The sun’s grand finale was painting muted hues across the sky, an intermittent breeze providing a coolness to the air, and fireflies flashing their welcome in the fields. A crowd of about 300 guests relaxed on blankets and lawn chairs listening to The Other Favorites play original compositions along with their renditions of country music classics. The fifth of our seven summer concerts, The Other Favorites drew an enthusiastic crowd.
Pandemic restrictions seemed, at least for the time being, a thing of the past. However, this evening was the direct result of intense focus and planning which took place during the lockdown.
Rewind to March 2020.
When the Covid shutdown started, Juneberry Ridge faced the elimination of nearly 90% of our planned revenue for the year. When the world faced its largest pandemic in 100 years and economic activity ground to a halt, Judy Carpenter’s mantra became “don’t waste a crisis.”
Her idea is that even during unusual times, there are always things you can do to advance your organization’s mission and vision. Sometimes this allows us to focus in ways that normal times don’t.
So in March 2020, like many organizations, we had to make some fast adjustments. Today, we are a stronger and more focused company because of those adjustments.
A new vision for our company.
Under Judy’s leadership, we gathered all staff and re-emphasized five key messages:
No jobs would be eliminated due to Covid. We reaffirmed that we are a purpose driven business which prioritizes our people, the planet and our customers.
Growing food is essential business. Pandemic or not, customers depend on our greenhouses to deliver fresh, wholesome food in North Carolina.
The world may take a pause, but we have important work to do. The result was to refocus our team on our vision: to change the way the world grows. For us this means a commitment to regenerative agriculture, a method of farming which improves soil health while producing sustainable, delicious, and healthy food.
Flexibility is the key to thriving during this period. Every employee still had a major area of responsibility, but our level of teamwork increased. Flexibility meant each of our associates would spend significant time preparing for a post-covid world (not a “return to normal”). With hospitality and events shuttered, day-to-day duties changed. We spent more time collaborating, learning, and building. All our teammates completed LEAN management certifications. We studied together, read and discussed some of Peter Drucker’s works, as well as other thought leaders. Improvements were identified across the farm, most notably in our greenhouse operations.
This is the time to build our future. We accelerated long-term plans for the development of the farm. Reallocating financial and human resources to land development resulted in the establishment of new orchards, roadways and water management systems. We expanded community outreach programs to provide healthy food for shelters and neighbors in need. We launched a new ready-to-eat meal program to deliver fresh food to local cafes. Finally, we rebranded our organization from Lucky Clays Farm to Juneberry Ridge. Our new identity better communicates our core purpose as a farm and conveys our vision for hospitality experiences inspired by nature.
Of all these things, by far the most transformative was the focus we put on our purpose. We’re helping to change the way the world grows, and you’re invited along for the journey.
Originally from Wheaton, Illinois, Bob is our Vision Keeper and has been on staff since May of 2019. He values that the team is committed to making a positive impact on the local community and the world. Bob is married, has three children, and spends his free time doing anything outdoors, reading, and traveling.