Kenzie Kilmer, along with her sister Cadence Kilmer, have started co-managing the Josephson’s sweet corn stand in Cannon Falls. With help from Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor Duane Pliscott, the transition from the Josephson’s to the FFA began after last year’s corn season.
Read the details of the transferral of power, how the selling season has gone so far, and how the FFA plans to continue as the Josephson’s step back farther.
Q: Where did the idea for the FFA to be partnered with the Josephson’s come from? How did you and your sister get involved?
A: What I think it came from was mostly a spur of the moment partially to not let it die out, to continue, it’s another thing for the FFA to do and trying to get people more involved in agriculture. Pliscott gave the idea of us being managers to take over and see what happens. We use it for our Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).
Q: What was the process of starting the transition of the sweet corn business to the FFA?
A: How will the transition continue next year and years to come? Hiring FFA kids mostly. Bringing them in, and later on down the road, it will all be FFA. In the beginning, me and Cadence were doing the small things. Pliscott was involved in it. We were learning about it all. The accounts for the financials were easy. Me and Cadence just put it under our names. Further down the road, it will be under the FFA name. It was simple enough to start a checking account. I think the years to come are a difficult area because I haven’t talked to Pliscott enough. We will have to teach the younger kids about it, how the finances work, pollination, growing, and planting. We will have all FFA kids selling and running it. Slowly, it will be going out of the Josephson’s hands more and more every year. We are hoping in a couple of years, it will be completely out of their hands.
Q: What are some of the challenges you and your sister have faced with co-managing the sweet corn stand?
A: Making sure we have enough people working for us was a big thing. Finding someone who could drive took forever. Otherwise, nothing too bad, just keeping everything afloat and steady.
Q: How do you think this transfer will impact you and the students who work at the stand?
A: It’s a good thing to know how the financials work, and how real life works.
Q: In a few years’ time, when the Josephson’s have entirely stepped back, how will the FFA students run the business?
A: At first we will use their equipment for plantings. They will show all of the FFA kids how to do it, like me and Cadence learned how. All sellers and pickers will probably be FFA members and alumni. We are slowly entering into bringing more kids into it and getting them involved. We will be renting the land from them so it will still be in their name. With the equipment, I am not sure how that is going to work yet. My best guess is that we will be paying for gas, if something is broken we will fix it.
Q: What is something that you have learned thus far while managing?
A: It’s a lot harder than it looks. Keeping track of everything, making sure people are okay with what is going on, keeping everyone responsible. Responsibility is a big thing. We need to make sure that everything is set for the next day and next week. It’s slowly building up more and more, and it’s definitely a learning thing.
Q: With the pause on sales because of this summer’s early drought, how will you handle the rest of the season?
A: The next planting was checked, not the one that we were about to go with, but the one after that. It’s better but the planting that we were going to be selling now, it wasn’t working. The pollination, due to the heat and lack of rain, wasn't good. We are hoping that it isn’t any longer than a couple more days, but if it goes any longer it will probably be frozen and we don’t want that. We are hoping that we can continue after the break and we will keep checking on it. The planting after is smaller, it’s a bit younger. We are not sure if we will sell it off of the truck or only for bulk orders. It’s kind of up in the air as to what’s happening in the next couple weeks.