By Lisa Shrewsberry
Women are daughters, each of us. That’s how Tammy Jordan, inspirational author, agriculturist and business owner, views it. So much so, she’s sharing her bounty with women unaccustomed to walking through doorways to opportunity.
Jordan is calling on her culinary experience and agriculture expertise in developing a curriculum to teach drug-convicted women valuable skills in food management and agriculture. The skills are intended to serve the women positively both in the job market and personally as they move out of a place of barrenness and into a place of fruitfulness. She has gained agreement to pilot the program in cooperation with the Greenbrier County Drug Court this summer.
“This is under the ‘training’ part of the Training and Retreat Center,” explains Jordan of the sister companies to primary endeavor Fruits of Labor Inc. “The program will last eight weeks and will offer two nationally recognized certifications — ServSafe Food Handler and ServSafe Manager — to eight women.” Two additional certifications offered to the women at her facility in Dawson will include West Virginia Welcome guest services (for frontline foodservice employees) and a county food handler’s certification. Following the success of the initial eight students, Jordan is committed to growing her concept by scheduling classes throughout the year.
As she relates her life to that of the ladies she seeks to serve, she does so not to count her own blessings, but to make her blessings count. Using what you have to benefit others is just one lesson she took from her parents — in particular, her mother.
You’d think Jordan had a hidden crew to help her maintain both her busy catering business, Fruits of Labor Inc., and her 218-acre Training and Retreat Center, “a place of sustainability in agriculture, lifestyle principles and spiritual growth.” But there is just one other inside her industrial kitchen in the quiet Dawson countryside most days: Jordan’s mom, Dyanna. Together in business for 12 years, the two have provided excellent food and beverage services to mark key events in lives — weddings, anniversaries, carrying off the large and the small together, without falter. Their biggest crowd to feed, with
additional help called in only for service, numbered over 1,500 people.
As Fruits of Labor Inc.’s vice president and a talented cake decorator for over 40 years, Dyanna has served as both mentor and lead support to her daughter in growing her business and her mission. Jordan is quick to offer her gratitude for an ideal upbringing. “I am one of those rare people blessed with a family where the parents have been able to stay together and they’ve poured their lives into their children.”
Planting was a large part of what knit the family together. Still today, Jordan grows the food she prepares for her businesses and for distribution to food programs in her community. “We grew because it tasted better. And what you got from what you grew was sometimes exponentially more than you expected.”
For classes during the growing seasons, Jordan will teach her students using produce she’s grown on her own farm at The Retreat in Spring Dale, which she also uses extensively for women’s retreats and church groups. Near the program’s end, she plans to organize a dining service there during which farmers, chefs and others will get to network with the new trainees as potential, willing employers. She also has as a goal to host several train-the-trainer programs for others wanting to help the women in the drug court systems of their counties.
Greenbrier County Drug Court will help select the appropriate candidates, women who have demonstrated seriousness about getting their lives back on track and who have achieved a measurable level of sobriety to match their commitment. Jordan is hoping to make her program a model for others like it throughout the state, region and beyond, but it will only work to the extent each woman is ready for change. “They are coming voluntarily. They’re not being forced. We’re starting with a group that has the highest potential for success,” states Jordan.
As part of the curriculum, author Jordan will employ her debut devotional, titled “The Door to Fruitfulness,” and her second book, available to the general public in September, titled “The Seed Sower,” a 40-day personal journey into sowing “positive seeds into the lives of others.” Both are available through ShadeTree Publishing (www.shadetreepublishing.com).
When students put on their chef’s coats, says Jordan, it provides them a feeling of professionalism, excitement and changes in attitude toward opportunity.
“This is about getting them back on track and helping them to develop self-confidence,” she says. “They’ll be able to hold down a regular job while building on their current resume and developing their people skills. They’ll also learn what it’s like to prepare and to eat nutritious food.”
The cost of the program is $150 per week for each participant — not a cost for profit, but to provide the resources needed to fulfill each certification. “We’re looking for churches and private donors to sponsor a week for the ladies in the program,” appeals Jordan. So far, she has received donations enough to cover a full week of instruction for the first eight ladies. Her goal, with the cooperation of her community, is to provide scholarships for all.
“You look at the whole problem of drugs in our community and it can be overwhelming. Donating to this program is for those who say ‘Yes, I can do something.’”
For more information about the program or for information on how to contribute, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.fruitsoflaborinc.com.