Friday, December 6, 2013
Backyard Farms, a significant part of the Madison economy since producing its first crop in 2007, underwent a greenhouse expansion in 2012, creating a 33,550 square foot space, including a new research and office building.
Shawn Belsower, an employee at Backyard Farms in Madison, walks past the facility's greenhouse in 2007. The company expanded that greenhouse in 2012. Backyard Farms recently announced it needed to destroy its crop for a third time this year, which will result in employee furloughs and no crop this year.
Staff file photo by David Leaming
Madison town manager Dana Berry, who is also a former vice president of human relations at Backyard Farms, said the farm is the town's second-largest employer, with about 200 workers. A majority of those workers live within 15 to 20 miles of the greenhouse, he said.
On Friday, Berry said he had been notified that the company might issue furloughs, but he said it was too early to tell what the impact could be on the local economy.
"It matters a great deal. Those wages come back to our local economy. They are used for mortgages, car payments and all sorts of things," he said.
Merle Gordon, 54, of Norridgewock, has worked at Backyard Farms for about three years.
"They go above and beyond for their employees. They are very community oriented and care about the community," said Gordon, an assistant crop care team leader.
He said the farm has had discussions about furloughs recently but he did not know anyone who received a furlough notice.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368