An Interview with Chelsea Consalo
Thanks to the generous donation of blueberry bushes by Consalo Family Farms, our children will be able to learn what is involved in cultivating a garden and even harvest their own blueberries! Chelsea Consalo, Vice President of Produce Operations, hopes that through caring for our new blueberry patch, our students will learn about responsibility, share in her passion for agriculture, and develop an awareness of "being a part of something bigger than oneself."
We are so grateful for your donation of blueberry bushes for our new outdoor learning environment! Can you tell us anything about these bushes and what our students should look forward to as they watch them grow and produce?
Early in the spring, the buds will begin to swell and go through a flowering process. Buds go through stages called T-1 through T-5. T-1 through T-5 are the stages of bud to final full bloom. At this point in time, leaves begin to appear. As the flowers are pollinated, they drop off the plants showing full pollination. As the flowers fall off, you will begin to see the start of a blueberry, or what is known as the cap. While this process is taking place, so is the new growth of the bush. During this time, the plant is ‘sizing’ berries and is also making buds for the following year. At the beginning of June, the berries will start to ripen and will be ready to be picked. Fall will bring a second flush of growth and the plant will prepare itself to go to sleep for the winter.
Why is it important for children to spend time in nature and to learn about agriculture?
Being a part of agriculture is being a part of something bigger than oneself. I feel this each and every day at work. To have children spend time in nature teaches responsibility and awareness. Care, time, and hard work make each and every blueberry bush grow and produce fruit. To be around agriculture also brings awareness about where food comes from. The process of getting fruit and vegetables not only grown, but harvested, packed, and on their way to grocery store shelves also takes care and time.
What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing careers in business or agriculture?
Always be yourself and stay true to that. This industry presents new challenges every day, and showing up as your best self will allow you to navigate them. Learn from others and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
My contact information is fully available to any student interested in learning more about the ‘ins and outs’ of my position at Consalo Family Farms! Parents and students are welcome to email me.
What tips do you have for families interested in supporting local / regional agriculture?
Support local farmers markets. We also encourage families to try to grow their own produce and start home gardens! When shopping for produce in the grocery store, be aware of the origin on the label so you know where products are coming from. Not all produce will tell you the state of origin of that item, but you can look for product of USA.
How did you become interested in agriculture?
Produce has been in my family forever, so I grew up around it. I was attracted to the idea of being a part of my family’s legacy: produce. My college days were coming to an end, and my dad approached me with an opportunity to get involved. Because of this, I said yes, and the rest was history. When I became involved in farming operations, I became truly passionate about my job. On the farm, I have fostered relationships I do not think I would be able to find anywhere else. My passion for this industry comes from being a part of where it all starts—from the ground up.
What would you like the Gladwyne Montessori community to know about Consalo Family Farms?
Our company’s history dates back to 1927 and started with William Consalo, Sr. He had a vision of bringing only the freshest and finest produce to market. As a farmer, first and foremost, he brought his love for the land to everything he grew. As the company expanded, his reputation for fair dealing earned him the trust and confidence in an ever-widening market of satisfied customers. His family inherited his dedication to growing healthy, quality produce, and as a result, Consalo Family Farms is an important partner in the company that bears his name.
His son, Andy Consalo, was in the business his whole life and built a stellar reputation for quality product and ethics in the industry. Andy’s son, Skip Consalo, represents the family’s third generation in the business. Today, the Consalo family is universally recognized for its leadership, dedication, and family commitment to providing high quality fruit and produce for North America’s tables. Now in its 4th generation, with Chelsea and Anthony Consalo, the family continues to be firmly committed to the ideals of William Consalo and the dreams he inspired.
Where are you located?
We are located at 5201 Moss Mill Rd. Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215. Our distribution facility is located at 1088 N. Main Rd. Vineland, NJ 08360. Families interested in more information can contact me directly!