Name: Chad Cummings

Age: 41

Title: Owner

Business: Cummings Greenhouse and Produce, Sidney, with a farm stand at 352 Civic Center Drive in Augusta

About: Cummings grows and buys produce to sell at his farm stand.

What’s your biggest challenge right now? 

Getting the product I need to keep up with the demand. The weather was a big challenge with the strawberries. I go and pick strawberries at local farms. One farmer had a big loss over the winter, so I had to scramble to get the product here. We started two weeks late on the season. June 23 was my first day open, and usually I start around the first of June. Right now, I’m struggling to try make up two weeks I am not going to make up. It’s been a challenge.

I shop around (to get produce), some days I’ll put 100 miles on. Towards the end of the strawberries, to find them I was driving down to Pineland in Gray, 115 miles down and back, and trying to pick my own. That was the biggest thing. I buy it outright. I pay them a price. If it’s bad or I don’t sell it, either I eat what I can and feed the animals or take the loss.

It’s kind of hard (trying to catch up on two lost weeks). A lot of my business comes from out of state. The travelers and stuff, they go home. Labor Day is pretty much the end for me. I have until Labor Day to make my money because a lot of my locals already have their own gardens. That women said her cucumbers were coming in, so that’s less for me to sell. The key for me is to have it all early.

How did you get started in the business?

As a kid, if I wanted to go swimming or do something, I had to pick rocks. I had to work in the garden. I didn’t get a choice. I had friends come over, pick some rocks and we’d all go swimming. As a kid, I hated it. But I love growing my garden. I’m going home, I’m going to have a steak, I got some potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, I’m going to have some corn — that’s what I’m going to have for supper.

My dad had a vegetable stand years ago and I helped him work that. I like being self-employed. The harder I work, the more hours I work, the more money I make. You know what I’m saying? I can either ruin myself or make myself a living. I have three months, seven days a week, daylight to dark. Sometimes I’m a little bit lazy; the heat catches up with me.

My dad and my mom (Russell and Janice Cummings) started me in this stuff. I still plant some beans just for her. I don’t plant a lot of beans because I can’t find the kids to pick them. It hurts their hands or something. But the family eats good.

What’s has been the most important lesson you have learned from being in business for yourself?

The more you can do yourself, the more money you can make. You have to put the time in. I’ve been learning as I’ve been going. I’m not trying to rely on everybody else. My kids have come a long ways. My son and my daughter were going to pick blueberries for me this morning. I’ve been trying to teach my kids hard work pays off.

There’s very few jobs, unless you work for somebody, you don’t get paid vacation. People say, “I’m surprised you’re open in the heat.” I have to be. I’ve got three months. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades. I hay in the summertime, too, to get some extra cash to pay the kids. I have to make enough money to get through till the snow flies, because I do some plowing, shovel some roofs, and stuff like that. Every day I take off, it’s a day I’m not making money.

It’s a long, cold spring. Everything I make now, I put to getting my greenhouse going. I grow a few flowers, but I start all my 0wn seeds. What I make here now and what I plow, will go into the greenhouse. All that money goes out in the spring because nothing’s coming in. I have to be frugal with it, make it stretch.

When did you know you could make this work?

At one point in my early 20s, I was working construction with my then father-in-law, and it worked to help pay the bills, but I like growing stuff. I started up the road in 2003 and then two years later I moved down here, and I’ve been here ever since every summer. Usually I start in May a few weekends, then from June ’til September, it’s seven days a week here.

I’m paying the bills. I ain’t living high on the hog, that’s for dang sure. I’m making it work. It’s a struggle late in the fall and early in the spring. If it doesn’t snow early enough for me, it’s going to be a lean Christmas, you know what I mean?

In five years, I’ll be living off my Megabucks winnings. Probably will be growing some stuff, and probably working with my brother, working in construction with him.

How do you keep motivated? 

A fun part is getting to talk to people. No matter what kind of business you’re in, you’ll get people who’ll stand the hair up on the back of your neck. I try to be nice. Ninety-five percent of the people are perfect and we get along great, have a good time.

It’s (a hard hustle), but I think of all the other jobs out there, and I don’t know what else I’d want to do. For me? Sitting in an office somewhere, I couldn’t do it. I have to be outside, even in this heat. Even in the wintertime, I’m shoveling out in the snow. Just the thought of me working for somebody else. Even Bath Iron Works, good money, good retirement, I wouldn’t have to worry about nothing in 30 years, but doing the same thing over and over again every day, I don’t think I could do it. For me, yes it’s the same thing (here) everyday, but there’s always something else coming up, something to look forward to.


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