Story and Photos by Troy Stolt/N&O
The morning mist begins to subside showing the dew-covered grass just after dawn on a midsummer day at Morning Glory Farms. Alyson Wideman-Terrel and her mother Christina go to work picking peaches from their trees in the front of the Orchard. The pair move through each tree, top to bottom, inside and out, reaching through branches and leaves for the peaches ready to be picked. The sun works its way higher into the sky as they make their selections and gently pull the delicate fruit of their labor off the trees and put them into baskets.
“People don’t realize just how much work goes into this.” Alyson explains as she sorts through the pick, “You have to be all in if you want to have a healthy yield, it takes 110 percent.”
The statement reflects all that Alyson has had to learn in just two years. She never had plans of becoming a farmer, the job she now loves so much. After receiving her degree from MTSU, she spent 15 years in the corporate world as a manager moving up the ladder to become a Vice President of a Medical Software Company when she began to have second thoughts about her chosen career path.
“I just realized I hated it, I was on call all the time and I just felt like it wasn’t me, so I came to the Orchard and I was venting to my dad and he told me I should quit. He had never encouraged me to leave a job before I had another one lined up, I guess he knew how miserable I was.” Alyson remembered of the conversation with her father. Perhaps Curt’s desire to see his daughter happy led him to encourage Alyson to make the change, or maybe the joy and fulfillment he had found working the Orchard after a career wearing a suit and tie may have given him a deeper understanding of what she was feeling. The Wideman’s knew nothing about working an Orchard when they purchased the land in Nolensville in 2002. Curt had wanted to buy property and work the land in retirement. He loved every second of the work, calling the orchard his “mission field” and for more than a decade Curt and Christina cultivated the land and settled into life as farmers. They bought chickens and kept bees, selling eggs and honey along with the apples they grew in their farm store, loving every minute of it. Perhaps after living his dream, Curt empathized with his daughter who was working a job she found no joy in doing.
She didn’t know it then, but the decision to leave the corporate world would be one she will always be grateful for. A short while after her final day in the corporate world and one day before her wedding, Curt would have to be rushed to the hospital where he would be diagnosed with bile duct carcinoma. Just a few months after his diagnosis, Curt would lose his battle with cancer. Alyson’s choice to leave her job allowed her to spend her time with her dad during the final months of his life.
“It had to be God’s plan that everything happened the way it did. I can’t see how it could’ve happened any other way” Alyson somberly recollects.
Respecting Curt’s wishes to make sure that he did not have an obituary in a newspaper, the Wideman’s held a memorial service for friends of Curt at the Orchard he had loved. Though it was never publicly announced, hundreds of people showed up to say goodbye, a testament to the type of man Curt was, and how strongly he impacted the people he came across in life. Just after his passing, Alyson says she stood in the fields of Morning Glory and made the decision to become a farmer.
“I knew right then this is what I was going to do,
I mean how could I not keep his dream alive?”
With Alyson’s decision made, Christina could keep the farm running. The pair work 60 hour weeks growing and maintaining the farm, managing the store, going to farmers markets, and running the business, managing to plant more peach trees to grow their business in the summer months before apples come into season, with support from Alyson’s sister Andrea and husband Andy.