Spring officially arrived a short time ago, and my son Ben and I marked the equinox by getting down in the dirt. As we planted peas in our backyard, we talked about all the people who help bring us good food from the earth, and we decided to have a talk with the Co-op’s Produce Manager, Kyle Parkins. Kyle has been at his post for the past year and a half.
“I started working at the Co-op in 2007, in the meat department,” he told me. He was between jobs when his old friend, Brennus, the Co-op’s Meat Department Manager, called and said he had an opening. “I’d moved away, but I was missing Moscow, and since I’d worked in grocery stores for many years, the job was attractive.” Kyle stayed in the meat department until the managerial position opened in Produce.
I asked Kyle what he likes about his job. “I love all the colors and textures, and the constant changes in stock that come with the change of seasons,” he said. Kyle also enjoys the challenges of being a department manager. One of the improvements he’s implemented has been to allow all the produce workers to order directly from the suppliers. This streamlines the order process, and ensures timely replenishment when an item runs low.
Of working at the Co-op in general, Kyle says he likes the people. He enjoys his co-workers, and he likes interacting with Co-op owners and shoppers. He takes pride in the quality of products the Co-op offers. “There’s such a difference between what we sell here, compared to what you get at regular grocery stores,” he said.
As a Co-op owner and frequent shopper, I know Kyle works hard to keep fresh produce coming in, at the lowest possible prices. Those inexpensive, tasty apples we’ve enjoyed all winter and spring? We can thank Kyle for those, an unintended consequence of a dockworkers’ strike on the West Coast that slowed down exports. “The apples would have rotted on the docks, so the suppliers sold them to us at a great price that we were able to pass on to the customers,” Kyle said.
Kyle lives in Moscow with his girlfriend, Ashley, the Co-op’s Mercantile Buyer. He grew up here, and his brother and extended family members still live in the area.
When he’s not at work, Kyle loves to go fishing. Lately he has been enjoying the challenges of bass fishing, and he plans to spend lots of time this summer by the water. He also enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction and drawing. “I hope to work on a comic book some day,” he told me.
Next time you get a hankering for a nice red apple or some Brussels sprouts, check out the Produce department, and give Kyle a high five. He’ll high five you back, with a smile.
Naomi’s son, Ben, who is four and a half, loves apples. “I like that apple guy with the beard,” Ben said.