In June 27 IssueRussell County NewsBy Kim Graham, RCN Reporter
While many kids are spending their summer vacationing, two Russell County youths, Kelsey West and Jesse York are working in family businesses - farming.
Twelve year old Kelsey West says she's working at her family farm to earn money.
"I need to pay my cell phone bill," said Kelsey West.
Her parents Mike and Junetta West opened The Covered Wagon this spring and are first time members of the farmers market this year.
Paying her cell phone bill is one of Kelsey's responsibilities in addition to her regular chores said her mom, Junetta West.
Kelsey comes from a family of dairy farmers, but with milk prices down and feed prices up, the family has ventured into new territory growing vegetables and plants to sell at their greenhouse and at the farmers market.
In the greenhouse, they raise a lot of what Junetta West calls heirloom plants that she remembers her mother growing such as old fashioned poppies and hollyhock.
She said they also sell knock out roses of varying colors.
"We're doing very well with the knock out roses," said Junetta West. "You really learn as you go."
The West's greenhouse is teeming with hanging baskets filled with petunias and many varieties of decorative bedding plants including Joseph's Coat, Coleus, and Mexican Hat.
Often, Kelsey can be found working in the greenhouse pulling dead blooms from petunias and other flowering plants to allow for new growth.
In the West's vegetable garden the family is growing tomatoes, peppers, water melon, squash, zucchini, Roma and white half runner beans, Bodacious and Incredible sweet corn and more for sale at the farmers market.
Along with Kelsey's regular household chores, she also waits on customers in the greenhouse and works their booth at the farmers market.
"My dad will probably be with me at the farmers market," said Kelsey West. "Once I get the hang of it, he'll probably leave and just let me do the selling."
Farm living also allows Kelsey the opportunity to develop her love of horseback riding.
"You'll see her riding around the farm when she gets a chance," said Junetta West.
Recently, Kelsey and her horse Sassy became members of the 4H Saddle Club Drill Team that performed at the 2009 Russell County Fair Rodeo.
"I just started drill team this year," said Kelsey West. "It's basically like square dancing on a horse."
The young equestrian looks forward to possibly honing her horseback riding skills to include other rodeo events.
"One of my long time goals is to get into barrel racing," Kelsey said.
Like Kelsey West, Jesse York comes from a family of farmers and helps his parents Pam and Randy York on their Russell County farm and selling produce at the farmers market.
"I'm nine and a half but I'll be ten in December. I've helped the last three years in the garden," said Jesse. "Before that, I was too little."
He said he likes to clean up the garden by getting rid of weeds.
Passersby can see Jesse pushing a wheel barrow helping collect and dispose of weeds from their roadside garden.
"Most kids don't like doing this but I enjoy it," said Jesse. "I can pull weeds from 2 rows in about 30 or 40 minutes."
The best part of growing vegetables though, is sampling the bounty.
"I like the Peaches and Cream corn," Jesse said. "They're little bitty ears so I can eat about 5 or 6 of them."
At the farmers market, the York's sell many varieties of tomatoes, beans, corn, peppers, water melons and many other vegetables.
Wild black berries, a popular purchase among market customers, prove profitable for the young farmer.
"We go blackberry hunting and sell them for about $10 a gallon because it's so much work," said Jesse. "Last year, we sold $100 worth of blackberries."
Not only does Jesse work farming vegetables, he also has a calf named Nibbles given to him by his grandpa.
"She comes up to me and likes to bite on me," Jesse said. "That's why I call her nibbles."
He is raising the heifer and plans to also raise and sell her calves in the future.
"She'll have a calf in about another year," said Jesse.
For the most part, Jesse is saving the money he makes farming.
"I pretty much save all my money from the market," said Jesse. "I still have all my money from last summer."
He says he would like to help fund a hobby with part of his earnings.
"I mainly fish but I hunt some," Jesse said. "I'd like to buy a 22 rifle with some of my money."
Both Kelsey West and Jesse York can be found this summer at the Russell County Farmers Market selling their locally grown produce.
The Russell County Farmers Market, located at US 127 and Lakeway Drive in Russell Springs, is open Tuesdays 7:00 a.m. - 1 p.m., Fridays 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 7:00 a.m. - 1 p.m. June through September.
For additional information regarding the Russell County Farmers Market, call Anna Robins at 270-507-6292.