When the Teacher Met the Farmer
True love grew among rows of vegetables.
It was a fleeting thought as I arrived at a friend’s 1,100-acre farm to baby-sit her children: Maybe I will meet a farmer. Little did I know that was about to become a reality. I had grown close to the family of one of my kindergarten students the previous school year, becoming good friends with Katie Donaldson, whose son Matthew was in my class. So I didn’t think anything of it when Katie texted me and asked if I could come over to watch the kids so she could go out to celebrate her July birthday with her husband. I was happy to do it. Shortly after I arrived, Matthew’s 10-year-old brother, Aidan, offered me a speedy ATV ride to the family farm’s market. As we drove to grab strawberries and milk for that night, I was amazed to see the tall rows of sweet corn almost ready for harvest, asparagus in overgrowth, plentiful lettuce and more. At one point, we passed a man and a dog. I asked Aidan about the dog. “Oh, that’s Jill,” he said. “That’s my cousin Justin’s dog.”
Once we got back to Katie’s farmhouse, I ate popcorn and pizza with the boys. I also took in the gorgeous view through the windows. Nearby, horses grazed on the summer pasture. Suddenly, I heard a door open, and in walked Justin. I later found out that Katie, ever the matchmaker, had told him to stop by and say hello. I offered him a slice of pizza, and we chatted. We eventually, again with Katie’s help, exchanged our phone numbers. Once Justin and I started dating, I witnessed firsthand how working on a farm is worth every late night and early morning—we take care of the land and one another. I saw the dedication it takes to grow good crops, including how to plant and harvest at just the right times. I sat next to Justin as he drove a combine. I watched the Donaldson family work together to keep things running. Katie’s husband, Greg, runs the farm’s marketplace and small-crops operation; Justin’s Uncle David runs the greenhouse; and Justin and his dad, Gary, run the wholesale division of the large crops, such as corn and pumpkins. I was falling more and more in love with the farm lifestyle—and with Justin. Two years from the day we met, he planned a surprise. Katie had invited me over to baby-sit again for her birthday dinner. When I arrived, she asked if I could first walk with her to the greenhouse to pick up some items. There, I saw Justin standing next to a red 1988 Jeep, complete with a giant red bow on top. As I ran to him, all I could think was, Wow, a Jeep for the anniversary of the day we met! All I got him was a card and a slice of cake. I excitedly began to tell Justin how much I loved Jeeps and how fun it would be to drive around the farm. After hopping in, I suddenly noticed a sparkling engagement ring in the cup holder! Justin took the ring from my hands, asked me to step out of the Jeep, got down on one knee and proposed. I couldn’t believe it! Moments later, my parents came out from hiding, along with Justin’s dad, aunt, uncle and cousins. They had been watching the entire time.
One year later, on the third anniversary of the day we met, we married. The celebration, on July 1, 2017, took place at the Donaldson family farm. It was such a special day, partly because of all the little details. I drove to the wedding in the same Jeep that Justin used to propose; we had fully restored it before the wedding. Jill, Justin’s faithful Staffordshire terrier I saw that first day, walked down the aisle with him. And my entire kindergarten class from the previous school year was invited to attend. As Justin and I look to the future, we can’t wait to build our forever home on the Donaldson farm. We hope to raise children on the land his family has owned since 1906. I’m so proud to be a farmer’s wife.
Engaged two years after the day they met, Justin and Selena (below) hosted a dual July Fourth/ engagement party several days later.
Selena and Justin Donaldson were married on the same farm where they had their first meeting.
All the festivities took place on the Donaldson family farm, where the family set out straw bales (above) for their guests to sit on during the ceremony. The wedding party (middle and bottom) had fun working the farm theme into the photos.