Meet Ashley Bear, Our Next Gourd Farmer In Training

For the entirety of her life, Ashley “Sweet Pea” Bear, has watched her father and mother run the family business of Meadowbrooke Gourds. She was born just as the business began, and from the day she was old enough to pick up a gourd, she has been working in some capacity in the family business. When she was just a little girl, her father would take her out with him while he ran the farm crew to keep an eye on her and within a few years she was, as she put it, getting paid as a mandatory gourd planter, picker, and sorter along with the rest of the crew.

That was over twenty years ago now and a few things have changed, as they always do. During high school, Ashley was able to spend time working with her father creating new products as part of a program through the school she liked to call “work release.” During these hours, she and Ben would design new products together and eventually test market them to see if there was any interest. It was then that Ben realized that his youngest child had the same natural ability as his wife to create a product that blended perfectly into the Meadowbrooke line, but Ashley had a few other things to do before she returned full time to work in the family business.

After graduating from college with a degree in physical therapy, Ashley moved back home with the intention of finding a job that would allow her to use her degree, but other opportunities presented themselves. As she decided what to do next, she began working part-time at Meadowbrooke doing a variety of jobs, which suited her desire to not be stuck inside doing the same thing all day long. Currently, Ashley does a quality check on all the finished gourds before she puts them away, does inventory, teaches gourd painting classes on occasion, cleans and maintains the stock on all the raw gourds for sale at the farm, and helps out in production when needed. And, when she’s not doing one of the many aforementioned activities, half her daily work week is dedicated to learning the farming end of the business with her dad which entails, but is not limited to, the growing, pollinating, and gathering of the gourds as well as running the farm crew.

Now, although it may seem that this young lady is very busy, every day, all day long; Ashley does do other things besides work. She has a special man friend with whom she goes kayaking and hiking with and now intends to make him another Mr. Bear come spring of next year. She loves to spend time with her family, as well as going to the beach during the summer months. When I asked if she could ever just pick one thing to focus on she shook her head with a grin and said that she loves being outside and the variety of things she does makes her happy, and most likely she’ll be here for a long while yet.