Client: Shady Rest Nursery
Shady Rest Nursery, owned by Mike Shirley, is in McMinnville, Tennessee and produces bare root deciduous and flowering trees. The nursery was established in 2000. For the first 10 years, Shirley never encountered problems finding local, seasonal workers. About 8 years ago, however, it became, as he says, “just about impossible.” Shady Rest Nursery had trees that suffered because of a lack of workers to tend to them throughout the season, and Shirley worried about having a crop in the field without the necessary workers to maintain it and prepare it for sale.
Shirley visited another nursery that had workers through the H-2A program and was blown away by how well-kept and productive the property was. After learning more about the program, which allows agricultural employers with a shortage of U.S. workers to bring legal, foreign workers to the country for temporary or seasonal labor, he sought out Youngblood & Associates to begin the process.
Youngblood & Associates met with Shirley to learn about Shady Rest Nursery and assess its need for labor. The team learned that while the nursery only needs seasonal workers, Shirley was keeping employees on a year-round payroll to ensure that he would have the workers he needed once the season started up again. Participating in the H-2A program would mean Shirley’s company would save money because he would not need to keep year-round workers; the workers would leave when the season ended and return when it began again, and Shirley would not need to worry about finding new ones.
Shady Rest Nursery now has seven seasonal workers through the H-2A program. Youngblood & Associates has worked with the nursery to successfully participate in the program and to receive the same workers for three years in a row. This means that Shirley does not need to go through the process of training brand new workers every season.
Since the firm helped Shady Rest Nursery enlist in the H-2A program, the company now has the workers it needs to not only take care of the crop and the property but to increase productivity and even expand. Now Shirley can plant trees with confidence because he knows that when his crew harvests the crop, it will be in great condition to sell and he will have a product he can stand behind.
When asked what he might say to employers who are considering the H-2A program, Shirley says, “The unknown is a little scary at first, but I can’t imagine doing this now without the program. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you’ll have workers when you need them and that your crop will be taken care of as it should be. There’s nothing I could change about the program or the process with Youngblood & Associates that would make it any better for me.”