Tough times call for creativity. We are creative when we make do with what we have. We are creative when we choose to draw names for Christmas instead of buying gifts for everyone. Our creativity extends to our meals, and our entertainment. Cousins Troy Connor and Jason Kendall took creativity in a whole new direction. They found a creative way to give, and provided a way for hundreds of other people to give.
David Kendall, Jason’s father, established Kendall Flower Farms in 1987. In 2002 he died, leaving his son in charge of the 350 acres in production. It was too much, so Jason asked his cousin, Troy for help.
“It was family,” Troy said in way of explanation. The lanky, sandy haired farmer shrugged his shoulders as though that said it all. He gave up law enforcement and moved his wife and two boys to Fallbrook and became a flower farmer.
It was not easy. Soon after he arrived there was flooding, and a fire. The farm lost 75% of its production. In spite of the discouragement, quitting was not an option.
“We were young, we knew we couldn’t quit, and besides,” Troy gave a rueful grin, “Even if we wanted to quit, who was going to buy a burned-out flower farm?” He looked over the beautiful hills, into the distance. “Nope, there was nothing to do but push through.”
One result of these disasters was the decision to go organic. Organic sunflowers were planted and a new page was turned.
In the midst of these trying times, Pastor Scott Treadway began telling the congregation at Rancho Community Church about the Temecula Murrieta Rescue Mission. This was Troy’s home church. He learned that the food drives were not enough to cover the growing need.
“I knew we could help. It wasn’t a big stretch to go from organic sunflowers to organic corn and squash.”
Troy talked to Jason, who immediately agreed. They chose two acres that would be appropriate for raising food. Kendall Farms would donate the tractor, their farm manager and their expertise. Everything else would need to be donated by outside sources.
“We would have loved to donate everything. If we could have, financially, we would have.” Troy said with sincerity. “But it was better this way.” He goes on to explain. “I was planning on leaning on our suppliers to donate things and offer discounts, but what happened amazed me!”
Troy sent the word out and got an overwhelming response. Rosie’s Rentals donated a porta-potty. Grangetto’s donated organic fertilizer, and various seed companies donated seeds. Troy knew potatoes would be a great addition to the food being grown, but was unable to find a local supplier. He called a farmer in Oregon, hoping that when he explained what the potatoes were for, that he would receive a discount. Instead he got 1500 pounds of seed potatoes donated, free and clear. The potatoes needed to be shipped from Oregon to California. A call to a trucking company resulted in the potatoes being transported for free. Even the manpower was donated. Families made the trek out to the farm to plant, weed and harvest.
Donations continued to pour in, including better irrigation, and an out of work commercial landscaper spent two days trenching 1,000 feet of irrigation ditches. The two acres grew to almost three. In the end, more than 30,000 pounds of food was harvested and donated. Because of the success of the program, Kendall Farms plans on doing something similar next year, starting in early spring.
“You are defined by who you are under pressure,” Troy said.
It’s true. The people in this valley are defined by the generosity they are showing at a time when there is so much less to give.
If you would like to help, or need help you can contact Dave Jones of the TMRM at 951-526-1200
Written by: Bethany Rogers