Whether you've jawed with Rich at the farmers' market, bought green onions from Richie or Dalton, tasted some of Charline's prized jams, taken a horse-drawn carriage ride or picked the perfect pumpkin, Sally Gap Farms is a solid name in Whitley County and beyond.

Rich and Charline Meadors, along with their children, are the hands of the labor of love. But Charline, who grew up eating what she calls Banquet chicken from the freezer, while her mom worked second shift as a nurse, didn't grow up gardening, rather she is self-taught.

As a means to relate to her mother-in-law, Charline started her own backyard garden. She researched and taught herself, Rich and the children.

In the beginning, Rich had a landscaping business while Charline started growing the garden. Charline said when the family wasn't using all the produce they were growing, she told Rich she wanted to go to the farmers market to sell the extras from the garden.

"He wasn't in for it," said Charline. "He hated the thought of going and selling tomatoes."

But Charline, a strong willed entrepreneur, did just that. While Rich continued his landscaping, she hauled produce to the Whitley County Farmers Market in Goldbug.

Charline admits that as a business woman in agriculture, she isn't taken seriously and sometimes it can feel a bit depressing.

"People will look at my husband sometimes and ask him how he's doing stuff," she said. "Really, he gets all the credit for all the stuff that goes on, whatever, there's more than just him that does it."

Charline said a man will walk up and talk to a man before they will walk up and talk to a woman about agriculture. Often times Charline is the expert in the subject matter.

"They don't walk up to a woman and ask her how you trellis a tomato," she said. "They ask him and he's not the one that does it."

Charline said she does understand why people are quick to give her husband the light -- his personality. And there's no denying Sally Gap Farms needs the unique combination of all of them to thrive as they are.

The Meadors' lives have changed quite a bit from the days of an oversized garden when Charline would till and hoe every other day.

Currently Charline and her family farm and garden daily, from sun up to sun down.

"As soon as we get out of bed we are out in the high tunnels or out in the garden, stringing cucumbers or beans," said Charline.

On days when the family travels to a farmers' market, they pick produce until 2 p.m. and then they clean up and head out to sell their goods.

"It's pretty much from the moment I wake up to the moment I go in the house at dark," said Charline.

Charline said there are still some things that her mother-in-law produces that's better than she does, even with all her research. It's not unusual for Charline and her mother-in-law to be on the phone for 45 minutes talking garden.

"She's the reason we got into what we got into," said Charline.

In the fall, the Meadors bow out of the farmers market to prepare the farm for the much anticipated pumpkin patch. They offer a hay ride, train ride, petting zoo and they get to go down and feed the animals. There are games, mums, pumpkins and that's just the beginning of fall at Sally Gap Farms.

Festivities don't stop there either as this year will be the third year with Christmas trees from North Carolina, fresh baked cookies to decorate, hot chocolate and a horse drawn carriage ride.

A week before Christmas the farm work stops but only briefly. Charline said the day after Christmas the family starts planting tomato seeds.

Charline has been with the Whitley County Farmers Market for several years and has seen both the upside and the downside. The hiring of new market manager Andrew Modica has been a positive step in the right direction, according to Charline, who said Modica has brought in some happiness to the market's atmosphere.

When it comes to shopping local, Charline agrees that it's trending.

"People are becoming more aware of where their food is coming from and what pesticides are on it," she said. "Knowing your local farmer -- I think that's what people are going for."

And perhaps that's why at Sally Gap Farms (who supplies potatoes and tomatoes to the Wrigley Taproom and Eatery) everyone is welcome at almost any given time.

"We are an open book," Charline said. "Me and Rich...if you want a farm tour, anytime. You're more than welcome to come in our high tunnels, pick your own tomatoes, we don't care one bit."

Charline encourages young women in agriculture to follow their dreams.

"If your dream is to be a farmer, don't let anyone knock you out of it," she said. "Jump in and work to the best of your ability."

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