Now this might not seem like much of an accolade when you find that indeed Manning Canning only has one employee, but trust me...it is.
Some of you may have been lucky enough to meet Lou Bellamy when she stood in for me at a couple of markets throughout the summer or if you happen to go to Withrow Market on Saturdays, you will have met Lou at the Haystrom Farms booth...which is where I had the good fortune to meet her.
Photo credit: Peter Visima
But for those that have not met her, Lou has been working with me since last fall...back when Manning Canning was still just a part time job for me on top of a full time marketing job. She suffered through the kitchen days where I had forgotten half the ingredients or a key piece of equipment required for the day because I had just rushed to the kitchen straight from work or after a long day at the office. She has been by my side as I experimented with steam kettles and batching up my recipes. She has helped me label hundreds of jars bound for different farmer's markets or stores. She has brought me Tim Horton steeped teas to get me started in the morning. But most of all, she believed in me and Manning Canning at a time when I myself was still riddled with questions and doubts. She supported my decision when I finally decided to quit my full time marketing job and take the leap to a full time preserving career. And for that, I doubt I will ever be able to fully thank her. My only hope is that I can continue to grow this business and one day HIRE HER FULL TIME.
But until that moment comes, all I can do is hope that my praise and my thanks are enough to keep her stuck to my side like glue.
I asked Lou earlier in the summer to answer a few questions for me so that you could all get to know her a little better and understand why she chose to take the chance on Manning Canning and here is what she said.
Can you give a quick summary of your work experience up until we met at the market
Many moons ago I did a brief stint in retail however majority of my worklife was spent in a variety of administrative roles – almost half my life being within the post-secondary education sector in Toronto.
What did you like about your previous jobs
I always found working with people to be more beneficial and rewarding for me than the pushing paper aspects. I thrived moreso on personal interactions and helping those with whom I worked understand and deal with bureaucracy.
What was missing that led you to working at Withrow market and with Haystrom Farms?
I needed to step out from behind my desk and become involved with initiatives that were more important to me. Becoming active in a more direct way was a key point for me. It started merely because of my interest in helping friends who are organic farmers. Staffing the market to sell their produce was an out of the blue concept that I stepped up to. My experience from fieldwork to the farmer’s market began the journey in my transition away from a university environment.
Do you remember why you mentioned you would be available/interested in working for Manning Canning
While being vendor neighbours at the market we became acquainted and shared great camaraderie. Throughout the summer in having learned more about MC – I was intrigued by your accomplishments -- and knew it would be great if I could help in such a positive enterprise. Having sampled your yummy product line quite simply sold my taste buds and interest!
What is it about Manning Canning that interests you?
I admire the achievements and goals behind MC. The integrity, hard work and absolute dedication in creating a dream. The world is a better place because of Manning Canning!
What do you bring to the business that is unique and makes it stronger?
A customer service and conscientious nature
Motivation to learn
Sense of humour
How would you summarize a day in the life at Manning Canning?
An active and rigorous environment. There is always something to do. Maintaining high standards without shortcuts is the mandate. Busy and fun from the get go until the last filled jar is packed.
Why is working in the food sector appealing to you?
It’s where I feel that I can help make a difference. Keeping healthy, local and ethical concepts in perspective is both responsible for and beneficial to me.
Anything else you want to add in Lou?
Working with you/MC is fantastic -- and I absolutely love what I'm doing. I think of you as my mentor. Thank you
If you happen to see Lou, be sure to thank her as well, because honestly without her a lot of the wonderful items I have been able to put into jars over the summer just simply would not have happened.