Chaffin has been managing the fields for 20 years. He grows tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, corn, herbs and strawberries at four Kendall locations.
Sheri Hahn, 54, drives by the field at 117th Avenue and 160th Street every day on her way to work.
“It’s my little slice of heaven. You don’t have to walk that far to find some beautiful vegetables,” said Hahn, while picking tomatoes. “It’s kind of like my second home.”
But Hahn might lose her second home. The Redland Community Council is holding a hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the South Dade Government Center, 10710 SW 211 St., Cutler Bay. The tomato field’s owner is asking for permission to continue farming on the site, even though the property is zoned industrial.
“I wish they wouldn’t close this place. I’m a vegetarian and I shop here all the time. It’s so fresh,” said Neil Chang, 40, a freelance photographer.
Sanchez says his family’s hard work has begun to pay off. In 20 years of business, the size of the family’s stand has almost tripled, and they’re now operating in many markets.
Claire Tomlin, owner of the Market Company, which runs many of the local farmers markets, has witnessed Sanchez’s expansion.
“They are as professional as they can be,” Tomlin said. “They have great products and they work a lot, so people like them.”
And while his children help in the farm and in the market, Sanchez doesn’t want them to follow his career.
“Farming is playing the lottery. You never know what can happen,” he said. “If there’s a cold front, it makes you nervous. You can lose everything in one month. This is my income.”
Their oldest son, David, 21, is studying criminal justice at Miami Dade College and transferring to Florida International University in the fall. Their daughter Natalie, 10, wants to be an astronomer, while Jerry Jr., 8, a teacher.
But even with its uncertainties, Sanchez enjoys his life as a farmer.
“My main goal is seeing that smile on a customer’s face,” he said. “It’s like being an artist.”