Farmer Profile for May: Kim Martens
A woman with passion and vision
Kim Martens has an MBA and worked in the architecture industry for many years before returning home a few years ago to help her father manage the family farm growing Empress trees in Raonoke, AL. She enjoyed the experience so much that this year she decided to create her own company and become a World Tree farmer herself.
Kim has also joined the World Tree Farmer Success team on a part time basis this spring to help with the growing and shipping of our Empress saplings at Southern Growers Nursery in Wetumpka, AL.
Even though agriculture is a field traditionally dominated by men, Kim has never shied away from a challenge. Even though the work is hard and can be physically demanding, she hopes more women will consider a career in farming. She says, “I think more women need to look at agriculture because, like with anything, women bring a different aspect to it.… And it’s only going to benefit the agriculture industry and women as well because you’re outside making something from dirt and trees.”
And starting her own business in an area she is passionate about has been a lifelong dream, “I feel empowered, I feel I have the support I need, and I’m ready to run with it. I want to plant trees and get my hands dirty.” And she can’t wait to bring people out to the farm and show them her amazing Empress trees and to share all the benefits the trees generate including the economic security of the farmer and the many environmental services to the land.
Kim feels very well supported by her family and the people at World Tree. She says, “I love the people at World Tree. They are wonderful to work with, are very helpful, and we pass ideas back and forth. It feels more like a real collaboration.”
Kim has also been doing a great job at the nursery helping with everything from calling farmers, coordinating shipments and helping the nursery staff ensure the quality of the saplings. If you have been sent new trees this spring, you’ve probably spoken to her!
World Tree propagates the trees using tissue culture. These are miniature plants that come in from a lab that are only an inch or two tall with a few tiny leaves. These plants are then planted directly into 32-cell trays that go out to the farmers. In past years, with consistent heat and sun, the baby trees have grown to a shippable size in just a few months.
But because of the damp, cooler weather this year, the tissue cultures were not growing the way they should have. Kim worked diligently with the nursery staff to find ways to encourage the saplings to keep growing. In the end, they were moved off the grow tables and placed the trays directly on the concrete floor so the heat from the ground would stimulate root growth. This did the trick and our baby Empress trees were ready to ship by mid-March.
Kim sums up her experience working with Empress saplings this way, “Don’t ever count these trees out. I have seen trees that did not look like anything above ground but in the pot, they were well rooted. They may need a few weeks of tender care but in the end just plant them out in the field. These trees will surprise you every time.”
We couldn’t agree more!
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