We don’t do any structured teambuilding exercises at Terra Firma, but everything we grow at Terra Firma is the result of constant daily teamwork between the fifty or so people who work here. Every item in your box gets to you as a result of a complicated ballet performed over the course of four months or longer. We are lucky to have a pretty amazing group of folks.
Our farm works on a pretty decentralized model. No one person knows everything that is happening at any minute on the farm — there’s just too many things going on, too many tasks to keep track of. Instead, everyone communicates laterally.
This can occasionally lead to comic mishaps. We have a half a dozen different trailers used for multiple tasks, by multiple people. There is no “Trailer Czar”. Given the popularity of the trailers on the farm, they tend to move around a lot. If you leave one in a particular field at the end of the day, there’s a good chance it won’t be in the same spot for long the next day.
Last Wednesday morning, our Harvest Manager Victor let me know that he was moving an empty trailer from one field to another. Later that day, I needed to use it so I went to go hook it up, but it was gone. I assumed someone else was using it, so I went and got a different trailer and sent him a text about it.
Later in the evening he called me to tell me that he had checked with everyone else who might have used the trailer, and none of them had moved it. Apparently someone had pulled off the road into the farm in broad daylight, hooked up to the trailer, and stolen it.
Theft is a fact of life on a farm — there is so much stuff to steal, spread out over hundreds of acres in several locations — and it’s almost impossible to prevent it. We have had thousands and thousands of dollars of critical tools, equipment and fuel stolen. But usually thieves work at night, or on the weekend.
By the next morning, word had spread among the entire crew that someone had stolen the trailer in broad daylight. People were surprised and angry. A few hours later, our Packing Shed Assistant Manager Marin was taking his lunch break under a tree, in the very same field where the theft had occurred, when he saw a pickup truck pulling the trailer drive by down the road, loaded with another truck. He waved down our irrigation team of Dolores and Miguel, who took off in hot pursuit. Marin then called Hector, who was just a mile or so down the road, and he too jumped in his truck to give chase.
The little posse of Terra Firma sheriffs caught up to the thieves, then passed them and blocked the road. Unfortunately, while they were waiting for the police to arrive, the thieves unloaded the trailer and then unhooked it from their truck and took off in the two vehicles.
It’s a nice feeling to get something back that was stolen from you. But in this case, it’s even better to see how amazingly well our team works together — even in situations crazier than anything you could imagine. It makes me happy and proud to be a part of it.