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A Day in the Life of a CAST Alum: Mac Condill, Agriculture

Ginny and Mac Condill, '99 at The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, Illinois.

The College of Applied Science and Technology’s “A Day in the Life of a CAST Alum” series is designed to shed some light on how CAST alumni spend their days. As with many careers, our alumni will tell you that every day is different, but this series aims to provide a peek into an alum’s world.

Mac Condill ’99 is the owner and operator of The Great Pumpkin Patch (TGPP) in Arthur, Illinois, where thousands of visitors every fall experience the harvest season alongside the Condill family. Condill is also the owner and operator of The Homestead Seeds, a cucurbit seed business whose mission is to grow, sell, and share the stories of rare cucurbit varieties, while providing the highest quality seeds to everyday vegetable gardeners. Condill and his wife Ginny operate The Homestead Bakery on the TGPP grounds, providing made-from-scratch baked goods to the surrounding communities and at farmers’ markets nationwide.  Condill received a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and horticulture from Illinois State, and interned at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania and Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa.

August 10, 2015

6:34 a.m.  Up and at ’em. Get notes from the house to take out to the farm in order to try and have a productive day at The 200 Acres.

6:54 a.m.  Drive around and walk through the 63 acres of cucurbits (pumpkins, squash, and gourds) looking for weed problems, pest, and disease problems. Then decide what action, if any, should be taken. Check with my dry-erase board to set the day’s tasks, after seeing what has and has not gotten accomplished the previous days by the crew.  The main tasks include groundskeeping and pulling displays out, in order to be ready to accomodate the thousands of folks headed our way in the fall to enjoy The Great Pumpkin Patch.

8 a.m.  Line out the day’s duties, make sure the crew of three-10 people know the direction we are headed today, and what the priorities are for that week.

8:17 a.m.  Hopefully start on some of the things on my to-do list.  Follow up on any issues any of the companies have had (good or bad). Call a potential partner in for some new events on the farm next year. Setup the specifics of a fall photo shoot with a huge company online. Iron out specifics of shipping produce for a photo shoot in Detroit for a very large company. Execute all these things with the help of our great team.

9:42 a.m.  Walk into the bakery and check on the managers and bakers to make sure there are no “fires to put out” within that company.  Perhaps grab a warm chocolate chip cookie on the way out as a quality control measure!

10:04 a.m. Walk along 5,400 mums to see how much water they will need today; pass that information along to today’s waterer.

10:16 a.m.  Check on all projects and people to see if we are on track to get the day’s tasks completed.

11:15 a.m.  Get back to my list while revisiting the dry-erase board…by now, there is probably new information concerning both tasks and personnel for the day.

Noon  Eat lunch with family (who also happen to be many of the workers at the farm).

12:54 p.m. Make sure the crew has a clear vision of the rest of the day and help troubleshoot anything they may have run into that morning.

1:06 p.m.  Back to my task list. If there is time, I will hop in the skidsteer and get some of the “moving” done myself of round bales, trailers, displays, and more. Then I head back to my desk to get ready for upcoming management meetings and prepping for the weekend crews.

2:15 p.m.  Follow up on any calls or emails from previous days or that morning, including another pop in to the bakery to ensure smooth running.

3:03 p.m.  Try to get that one thing I haven’t gotten completed today done before I head home. Often this involves flagging a new display or readying a space for the next day’s crew to finish.

4 p.m.  Head home to see the kiddos and begin writing lists in my head for the next morning’s visit to the dry-erase board.

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