Foundations at the Farm: How Wilkens Influences Student Workers
December 22, 2020
Wilkens Fruit and Fur farm has been open since 1916 and was founded by John Wilkens. He bought 71 acres of land in Yorktown for the purpose of making it a cattle farm which would include apples and peaches. Today, 5 generations later and in its 104th year, the farm has grown into 180 acres and a pillar of our community as it employs over 70 students from our school and is a staple of our falls and Christmases here in Yorktown.
Today the farm is run by Randy and Barbie Pratt along with their daughters. The farm now operates as a pick-your-own, where guests are able to directly pick their own apples, peaches or pumpkins depending on the time of year. Along with the variety of apples, peaches and pumpkins, the farm also has several acres of choose-n-cut Christmas trees. Other amenities on the farm include a corn maze, a bakery, a farm market, and a winery.
With so many amenities on the farm, there are many things to get done, hence there being so many job vacancies for local students. A majority of these students come from Yorktown and manage being students and employees from late August till the end of December. When asked if managing both was difficult, Emily Piehler, junior and employee at Wilkens, said, “No, at Wilkens you pretty much get to choose when you want to work or not, so it’s all about being able to manage your own time.” Katie Corrigan, junior and employee at Wilkens agreed, “No, I don’t think it is. I have gained time management over the two years I’ve worked there and always try to get my homework/studying done before I go into my scheduled shift.”
Students gain many valuable life skills that will help them in the near future as they prepare to join the workforce after graduation or continue their education. Juliana Piehler, Yorktown graduate of 2019 and in her sophomore year at University of Delaware said, “Wilkens taught me many valuable skills I’ve had to use in college, especially time management which is incredibly useful in college.” Hailey Moran, a junior, commented on her experience working at Wilkens, “I’ve learned how to deal with customers, the importance of being on time, and how to be more personable.” Katie Corrigan said the things she has learned include “working on the register and gaining a lot of customer service experience.” She added,“Wilken’s has also taught me about hard work and time management.” These are all valuable and positive life skills that will come into use in the future.
While the students work hard on the farm, when asked how they enjoy working on it they only have positive things to say. Emily Piehler, junior, said, “I love the job, especially because of the social aspect. You get to meet so many new people while working on the farm and form many new relationships with both under and older classmen.” Katie Corrgian enjoys her time at the farm, “Wilken’s has provided me with a great working environment! Everyone there is very friendly and understanding.” It is obvious Wilkens provides a friendly and loved environment for students.
Yorktown is extremely lucky as a community to have a place like Wilkens which provides opportunities to its youth. Students are able to gain valuable life skills that will set them up for their prominent futures and are given an opportunity to earn money while still in school.