By: Kyle Hebel
With her worn-out blue jeans, brown jacket, green apron stained by all kinds of fruit and vegetables, Kim Berry begins to spray water on some organic apples as a customer is in a deep conversation with herself. She can’t decide whether to buy three or four artichokes and she is hunched over examining every single artichoke, making sure nothing is wrong with any of them. This debate with herself lasts for 10 minutes until Berry chimes in and simply says “four.”
Berry’s Grateful Harvest Farm booth resides on the left corner of 8th and Oak among a variety of other booths, including a fruit smoothie and plant booth. The constant sound of chitter-chatter surrounding the crowd of the Lane County farmers market was overlapped by passing cars and a middle aged black African American man, blasting country music from his boombox, as he bobs his head to the beat of every song.
Berry, who is currently working two jobs-the other as a writer promoting whole foods for Hummingbird WholeSale-never envisioned her future to be selling organic fruit and vegetables at a downtown farmers market. Berry went to school 20 years ago at the University of Oregon getting a degree in sociology.
“As the years flew by I realized something: I hate being a social worker.” She decided to go back to school and earned a degree in environmental studies because she wanted to pursue a career that she would be happy with for the rest of her life. Then, she says, fate intervened:
“I was at the farmers market a couple weeks ago. As I was shopping around, I saw the help wanted sign at the corner of the booth. I applied for the job and actually my first day at work was last week.”
Charles Duryea, who has been the manager of Grateful Harvest Farm for 15 years, had enjoyed working with Berry in her short time on the job. “She’s great. Great work ethic, funny, nice. Overall, a great person to be around.” Duryea adds that he looks forward to having Berry working on the farm with him this summer.
A middle-aged man approaches the booth, with his black Harley jacket with a vinyl ram skull patch sewed on the right side of the jacket. Berry approaches him as she does every one of her customers, with a smile on her face. She says, “Hi there, how are you doing today?” as she offers him a sample of a dry pear. The man ends up buying lettuce, strawberries and organic sweet peas.
Berry doesn’t want to go back to her old life as working as a social worker. She wants to pursue a career writing about whole foods industry and never wants to look back. “I see this as my future. I am a writer and love to write about whole foods…it doesn’t get better than this.”
As the day comes to a close, the entire booth,which started off full of organic fruits and vegetables is empty. All that is left is the shelf on the left side containing fruit roll-ups and some scraps of lettuce. Berry begins to take inventory and sweeps around the booth with the same smile on her face that she gives to each passing customer, knowing that on every Tuesday on the corner of 8th and Oak she is finally working for a job she loves.