A shared faith and love for two fall icons - family and celebration - inspired neighbors Dale and Amber Knott and Layne and Sarah Nunes to open Shadow Creek Pumpkin Farm last year. Fortunate to own property with a beautiful shady grove at the southern edge of Midlothian, the neighbors wanted to offer other families a farm experience complete with pig races, petting zoos, antique tractors, a corn maze, and of course lots of pumpkins. With the invitation to “start your fall family traditions here,” the owners are purposeful in their mission to involve and serve the community through partnerships with local schools and nonprofits and employment opportunities for students.
Having written about several large or long-established organizations for these columns, I was interested to hear how Shadow Creek had progressed in the development of its values. I learned the values that guide the organization were established long before Shadow Creek became a twinkle in founder Layne’s eye. As Amber shared, the core values guiding their young business trace to the common faith shared by the two families. The four partners agree first and foremost that nothing truly belongs to them individually. Rather, they are blessed to be able to share Shadow Creek with the community for the glory of God. As a result, selfishness and greed among the owners have never been a concern.
Another value that guides the business is the conviction that the farm’s success results from allowing each of the four owners to contribute based on their individual giftedness. The son of an FFA teacher, Dale grew up on a farm in Lubbock and understands all aspects of the farming operation, including the livestock and crops. Amber’s love for people and communication landed her the roles of social media, marketing, and building relationships with community partners. With her teaching background and organizational skills, Sarah manages the employees (who are mostly youth) and handles payroll and other administrative matters. Layne brings his background in business to help the team see the vision of where they are going as well as how to get there. Recognizing that a successful business could only have one chief, the owners easily agreed that Layne would serve in that role. While the partners each offer input on important matters, they trust Layne to make the final decision.
As Shadow Creek enters its second season September 29th, the business listened to feedback from visitors and adjusted its pricing and layout based on that input. The farm looks forward again to offering employment opportunities to around 30 people, including many young students working their first job. To ensure a successful work experience, the owners work hard to set clear expectations and establish structures for the students. Not surprisingly, the best lessons learned on the farm included developing a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility.
Partnerships with other businesses and nonprofits will continue through the second season. The farm again plans to partner with a local nonprofit every day it is open, with members volunteering to earn donations for their group. FFA students will host the petting zoo and offer hourly educational animal spotlights. Students in the FCCLA program will offer story times for younger students on field trip days and a scavenger hunt to build literacy. Shadow Creek will make financial contributions to the chapter at the end of the season. As Dale explained, Shadow Creek measures its success, not in dollars, but by how well the farm creates an atmosphere that reminds the leaders, employees, and customers that something bigger is behind the joy.
As we look forward to our annual Chamber auction on September 29th, we too hope our success is reflected, not just by dollars raised for valuable programs, but in the relationships strengthened during a night of fun and appreciation for our members. Get your tickets now!