On Thursday October 6th, 2016 south Florida was preparing for a powerful category 4 Hurricane with winds up to 140 miles per hour- Hurricane Matthew. Most Floridians went to the stores equipped with their emergency list, prepared to purchase enough food for 3 days-including the basics: water, food and necessities like flashlights. In the neighborhoods, families could be found outside their homes, putting shutters on the windows, trimming palm tree leaves and trimming down "over-grown" trees. Gas stations were full and some even ran out of Gas...it was "pre-panic" mode as most residents in the area recalled the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Meanwhile, my TreeWorld staff prepared for the hurricane in a different manner. Many walked the halls of trees wondering if it would be the last time they would see the tree farm as it stood, fearing that they would lose the job that has been putting food on the table for the last 15 years and helping to put their first generation college kids through school.
As I vividly recall... some of the employees here started with a limited amount of agricultural knowledge. Yet, as time passed and their hours of field work increased, our employees have expanded their working knowledge of agriculture and now they can pick seeds from the very trees we planted years ago, prepare the soil according to the tree's needs and plant them to later watch them sprout seamlessly. It has been very gratifying to watch their knowledge and love for trees expand as their understanding of their medicinal and general benefits are discovered.
With the winds blowing at 20 mph the laborers agreed the trees be laid down in order to try and diminish the amount of damage caused by the gusts of winds that were forecast for later in the day and throughout the night.
And so it began...
For the last two days... our team worked together to prepare for strong winds and reduce the impact on each tree. All trees were prepared - from 45 gallon to 300 gallon containerized trees. Our field staff carefully, placed the trees down and wrapped containers of each tree in plastic to help the fertilizer and soil stay in place. As they worked they communicated among themselves and shared stories of the impact and consequences that the storm could potentially have in their lives and what the end of TreeWorld would mean to their family. It really put the benefits and positive impact of a small business like mine into perspective.
I don't always go home feeling good, as an entrepreneur I always feel I can/should push myself harder. At my age though, at the end of a long day I am simply worn out. But yesterday, on a day full of constant threats to our farms, I went home feeling worried, and I woke up feeling great! It's easy to forget how much you mean to the community and your employees as a small business owner. It is easy to overlook the impact you make in the lives of those that work for us. Today this view is the best view in the world because I was reminded of what it truly means, not just to myself as my life's work-but to those that come to work for TreeWorld Wholesale. These trees aren't just economically valuable, environmentally beneficial and aesthetically pleasing.
Today, I am grateful to arrive at a tree farm full of healthy trees- the same ones we planted 15 years ago, the same ones we fertilize regularly, prune periodically, water daily, and weed as needed. The same ones that collectively create a place for over 50 employees to make a living!
As they say, the sun is always shining somewhere when it rains, and there is always a rainbow at the end of dark days!
Luckily, the damage here was minimal but you can still hear the fading comments of those in south Florida as they criticize the news reporters for exaggerating the effects in our area. There are no complaints here... especially as they served as a friendly reminder of what we truly have here. We can only hope, that those that cross the path of Hurricane Matthew in the future are as blessed as we are, and we lament the lives already lost to Hurricane Matthew, our prayers are with them.
My Gem- My life's work- TreeWorld Wholesale