Page 82 of the 2019 Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog is about recommended lettuce varieties for hydroponic growing─but you’ll also find my own smiling face there! That’s right!! Johnny’s has chosen to feature little ol’ me as a valued provider of knowledgeable service in their Call Center!
When Amanda Terenzoni from the marketing team initially contacted me about doing a testimonial for the Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog, I was flattered. For a girl who grew up in the backwoods of Maine─who comes from nothing and expects nothing─to be recognized by Johnny’s in this way is a huge honor. I am profoundly grateful, but also just a little uncomfortable with the attention lol, and inwardly I balked at the idea.
I’m a Little Shy!!!
You may not know this about me because I write on a very public platform and I’m fairly active on social media, but I’m actually a bit shy and introverted.
As a creative-type, I’ve always been more than content to spend my time alone, reading, gardening, being artsy-craftsy─and writing. What’s more, my particular life’s journey led me through trials that isolated me from the rest of the world for the better part of my life. As a result of that isolation, I’m lacking a bit in social skills; I also became a very guarded person─afraid to share the real me with anyone. It’s been a challenge to step up and fully be myself with the people around me and something I’m still working on.
I figure social skills and interpersonal relationships are like anything else in life, though. It gets easier with practice, and you get better at it…hopefully. Ultimately, I want the connection with other people (community, friends and family)─at least sometimes lol. I still value my time alone for creative pursuits, but the connections I’ve made have brought a special kind of value to my life. They’ve enriched my journey, made it more meaningful, and I prize those connections very highly.
Bravely Sharing My Story
I also want to see Runamuk succeed and a big part of running any business is marketing. You have to put your products where they can be seen, and you have to inspire people to buy them. To do that you have to share your story, and since Runamuk and I are essentially one and the same, here I am; bravely sharing my story.
I would be interviewed by George Simonson, a Maine writer that Johnny’s contracts with. There would be a photoshoot at the Johnny’s Seeds Research Farm with Kristen Early, Johnny’s official photographer. The piece would be published in Johnny’s smaller catalog, Amanda told me, which goes out to some 240,000 home gardeners. Compared to the 1.5 million copies of Johnny’s master catalog that go out to growers worldwide, that was much less intimidating and so I agreed to it, if somewhat reluctantly.
It’s always really cool to visit the research farm. This time I happened to run into Rob Johnston (the founder of Johnny’s Selected Seeds) when I got lost in the office building at the farm. I was searching for Kristen and he helped me find my way─what a guy! After the photoshoot I went to say hi to fellow colleagues, and got to lob pumpkins with them during seed-processing. Totally epic!
View this post on Instagram
Some of my Johnny’s peeps work in the Call center during the winter, but are at the research farm during the summer, so I went to say hi and got to see/help with seed-processing. The pumpkins go in the funnel up top, get chopped up and eviscerated, seeds drop into a pan underneath and pumpkin flesh comes out the back.
Local Farmers and Gardeners Work at Johnny’s
Johnny’s wanted to feature the “knowledgeable service” they offer their customers. Did you know that in the Call Center, Johnny’s only hires farmers and gardeners for the job? When a you call Johnny’s Selected Seeds, you’re talking to someone sitting right here in Maine, who actually grows. Farmers like me, and gardeners who spend their evenings and weekends cultivating food just like you.
This is something that the folks at Johnny’s really pride themselves on─and so they should! People don’t just call us to order seeds; the wide-ranging spectrum of questions we field in the Call Center is nothing short of astounding. On any given day we’re talking to anyone from the brand-spanking new backyard-gardener, to the 40-year veteran farmer. They’re rural homesteaders or apartment dwellers seeking to grow something─anything─inside their high-rise city apartments. Or we might speak with organic growers, market gardeners, or large-scale commodity farmers. We get them all, and we help each of them to the best of our ability─if that means transferring the call to another colleague because he/she has more experience with X, then that’s what we do.
Sometimes, helping the customer is as simple as finding out how many seeds are in a “packet” of beans, or helping the customer to understand the pricing in the catalog (“What does the M mean?”). We help growers select varieties that will work best in the conditions they’re facing. We explain how tools work, or describe methods for cover cropping and make suggestions for farm-seed. We help farmers determine how much seed they’ll need to plant in a given space, and so on and so forth…
It’s all valuable information that Johnny’s is offering FREE as a service to growers everywhere. You don’t even have to place an order to ask us a question─and now that they’re offering Chat on their website, it’s easier than ever to connect with an experienced grower at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Proud to be at Johnny’s
This will be my 4th year with the company, and I really am proud to be an employee at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They have been so good to this wayward female farmer, allowing me the utmost flexibility in scheduling so that I can continue to farm full-time, raise my kids as a single mom, and still show up for my scheduled shifts. The people at Johnny’s really value what I bring to the table as a beekeeper, farmer and blogger. Time and time again my colleagues have opened the door of opportunity to me because they truly want to see Runamuk succeed.
These are some of the people who know best how long and how hard I’ve worked to make my farm-dream a reality. They’ve seen me at my best and they’ve seen me at my worst. My colleagues have shared in my struggles and celebrated my victories. In a way, my recent farm-purchase was as much their victory as it was mine: to see one of their own accomplish something so momentous was compelling for many of the people at Johnny’s, I think. I saw this testimonial as a way to give a little something back to this company that has done so much for me.
─> Call Johnny’s!!! <─
I want growers everywhere to know that Johnny’s Selected Seeds is a valuable resource they can rely on.
Certainly, you should keep a library of reference books. Definitely, use the internet to do your homework. When you get stuck though, it can be extremely helpful to talk to another human being─to get an different perspective, an nonobjective opinion, or to learn first-hand the experiences of other farmers and gardeners. Absolutely call Johnny’s! your ally in successful growing; they’ve amassed a veritable legion of farmers and gardeners available at the touch of a button to be able to provide you with the information you need to make educated decisions for your garden or farm.
Rallying to the Cause
In the Call Center at Johnny’s we’re gearing up for our busy-season; January through June the place is a mad-house─the phones ring non-stop, orders are downloaded from the website every couple of hours, and everyone processes mail-orders in their spare time. It’s exciting and chaotic at the same time, but each department at Johnny’s works in tandem with the next to ensure that all the cogs of this great seed company run smoothly, ensuring that growers receive the seeds and tools they need to have a successful season.
Over the course of the next month or so, Johnny’s seasonal employees (local farmers who work for the seed company during the winter) will be returning to the office. It’s heartwarming to welcome back colleagues we haven’t seen since the spring, to hear of their season’s successes and struggles, and to reconnect with friends. Seeing the other farmers returning always feels to me a little like the troops are rallying to the cause─to help families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing superior seeds, tools, information, and service at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Somewhere along the way, the marketing team at Johnny’s decided to use my testimonial in the full-length catalog, and so my face is going to end up before those 1.5 million growers afterall. The introvert in me is freaking out just a little at the idea of being seen by so many. Yet, if it translates into a) an increased following for Runamuk, and b) more growers taking advantage of the resource they have in Johnny’s─then I will be pacified.
The new 2019 Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog are beginning to ship out this week; home gardeners and commercial growers will find them in their mailboxes within days. Inevitably they will turn to page 82 and see my face there─my big debut lol. Eeeeeeeeeeeek! Feel free to ask for Sam when you call Johnny’s to place your order this winter; let me know you’re following my blog─I’d love to connect with you!
Thanks for following along! Be sure to subscribe by email to receive the latest from Runamuk directly to your in-box, or follow @RunamukAcres on Instagram for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the day-to-day happenings on this Maine farm!