Getting to know... Ellen Hollabaugh Vranich

Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg TimesVranich


Lives: Just outside of Biglerville

From: Just out the other side of Biglerville

Educated at: Menallen Friends Preschool, Biglerville Elementary School, Biglerville High School, The Pennsylvania State University

Family: Means everything! My husband, Erik; Children, Cooper (3 ) and Claire (7 months); Mom and Dad, Brad and Kay Hollabaugh; Brother, Bruce, and his wife, Amanda, and children, Gabriel, Evangeline, and Fineas; my husband's parents and my husband's brothers and their families; my Grandma Ernst (who just turned 98 years old!), and my Grandpa Hollabaugh; my Hollabaugh side of the family - aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Job: Part owner of Hollabaugh Bros. Inc., my family's multigenerational fruit and vegetable farm, retail market, and wholesale operation outside of Biglerville. I do a little bit of everything, but my main responsibility is managing our retail farm market with my mom, Kay, and sister-in-law, Amanda. I handle most of the techy side of things - website, Facebook, e-mail newsletters, etc., too. And I'm a mom to two amazing kids!

Job's reward: The rewards are endless! Working with my family is the absolute highlight; I adore interacting with people, educating them about agriculture, and getting them excited about the amazing food we grow! I love watching children immerse themselves in agriculture through our tours and children's events here at the farm. Watching fruit trees grow and change through the seasons is an amazing experience. And just being a part of this community, interacting with all of the wonderful work that folks do, is truly rewarding.

What I hate about my job: The stress, expense, and incredible amount of time it takes to maintain compliance with state and federally mandated regulations. It's incredible how much it's changed just since 2006 when I came back to the farm full time. It scares me to think of what it's going to be like when our fourth generation (I hope!) is running the show.

Very first job was: When I was about 5 or 6, I sorted picker tickets from bins of apples our workers had picked. At the time, it was an incredibly fun matching game! Looking back, I understand that my parents exploited my love of games to their benefit! I also helped customers carry their things to their cars at our farm market from a young age (Made some pretty good tip money, too! Funny now that I think about it, I haven't gotten a tip for helping someone to their car in years ).

Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese. From the blue box to homemade, cheap to expensive, I'd eat it every single day if I could.

Pets: An 8-year-old dog named Salem that thinks she's still a puppy, and a 2-year-old cat named Heath that purrs louder than any cat I've ever heard. And we always have an ever-rotating assortment of bugs in my son's favorite bug jar, but they aren't allowed to cross the threshold of our house.

Hero: My mom. She's kind, compassionate, selfless, funny, smart, loving, hard-working, honest, and God-loving. I'm lucky to have her as my mom!

Hobbies: I love to read. I love to cook and bake. I love to decorate cakes. I love to play the piano and sing. I love to do puzzles. I love to be crafty.

Pet peeves: I'm frustrated when people make broad (and often negative) generalizations about something, be it a race of people or a kind of food, when they often have no basis by which to judge. I'm frustrated by the incredible misconception about what organic agriculture really is (it's not what the mass media leads you to believe, by the way). On a more mundane level? I'm anal about turning lights off when you leave a room, and I'm really anal about clutter.

You collect: Earrings. Well, I don't really collect them. I just make any excuse I can think of to buy them. I also love to buy art when I travel to new and different places.

Best friend: My husband, Erik, and my mom, Kay.

Would like to have witnessed what event in history? The signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Event that changed your life: Giving birth to my son, Cooper Stephen, in 2011.

Scariest moment: See "event that changed my life," above.

First memory: I have some vague memories from my time at Menallen Friends Preschool, playing on the swing set in the woods, listening to Mrs. Green read us stories.

Trait inherited from parents: From my dad? Patience (ok, still working on this one. I'm incredibly patient for SOME things. Just not ALL things.) and thoughtfulness (if you know my dad, you know I mean all definitions of the word!). From my mom? Genuine love, care, and concern for and of others. And what I hope is a fraction of her great sense of humor.

Piece of advice that you live by: What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who needs a hug? Small business owners.

Favorite reading/author: I'll read any good fiction novel you throw my way. I particularly like mysteries and political thrillers. I enjoy mixing it up, and when I need a light read, I love Janet Evanovich.

Favorite spot on earth: The top of Yellow Hill. You can see for miles, and you're surrounded by my family's farm. Second runner up would be Machu Picchu in Peru. Aside from home, it's the most beautiful, awe-inspiring place I've ever been.

Website you visit most: Google. It's a love-hate relationship. I think it's actually making me dumber. Instead of thinking about something I often could figure out on my own, I just Google it.

Would like concert tickets to see: David Copperfield. I LOVE magic!!

One bad habit: I crack my knuckles.

3 items on your bucket list: Travel to all 50 states; get Hollabaugh Bros.' bakery on the Food Network; watch my kids grow and get to see where life takes them.

Five minutes with: My Aunt Ann. She died in a car accident when I was about 9 years old. My mom says I'm a lot like her as an adult.

What skill or lesson would you like to learn? I'd love to become fluent in Spanish. I studied it in school, but lost a lot of what I learned because I didn't use it enough after I graduated.

What would people find surprising about you? I'm currently the organist and pianist for my church, Trinity Lutheran Church, in Arendtsville (thank you, Joyce Trostel, for giving me piano lessons for 13 years!)

What would make this world a better place? If everyone could live in "the other pair of shoes" for just a day. It's so easy to criticize and place blame. I think we'd all be better off if we'd take a step back, think about something from the other person's perspective, and then communicate about it. Oh, and universal credit card machines. Does every single one really HAVE to be ever so slightly different?

What is the best piece of news you received lately that you would like to share? Good friends who have struggled to have a baby for years, including having numerous miscarriages, are now the proud parents of an adorable set of twins - a boy and a girl. God is good!

How would you like to be remembered? As someone who always gave more than she took. As someone who brought joy, love, and fun to the people she was so fortunate to have in her life.

- By Alex J. Hayes, Times managing editor

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