Brayden Nadeau, 10, shows off vegetables he has grown and his farmstand on his grandfather’s land off Hatch Road in Auburn on Thursday. He started the seeds in their garage and moved them to the greenhouse and planted them with minimal help from his grandfather. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Brayden Nadeau, 10, can be seen behind the green tops of vegetables he is growing in his garden. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Brayden Nadeau picks summer squash in his garden. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — For the average 10-year-old, summertime ushers in a period of recreation and relaxation, marking the end of early mornings and long school days.

Like many kids his age, Brayden Nadeau awaits every summer vacation eagerly, but for entirely different motivations than his peers. For him, the real work begins on his grampy’s farm when the days get longer and hotter. 

Awake at sunup, Brayden starts his mornings picking fresh vegetables in the garden of his grampy, Dan Herrick, ensuring they will be washed and ready when his first customers arrive. This summer season is a particularly special one for the young farmer. 

Sunday marked the grand opening of Brayden’s Vegetable Stand. Located at 470 Hatch Road in Auburn, the business’s Facebook page has received nearly 400 likes in just under a week. 

Every day since its launch, Brayden and his dad, John Nadeau, update the page with posts, pictures and live videos showcasing the cucumbers, zucchini and cabbage, among many plant varieties, picked fresh that day.

“He’s doing the things to keep up with his customers,” John said, “Thanking them, asking them what they want, asking for input. He’s helping feed and give back. He’s such a little business man without even knowing it.”

Brayden has spent the majority of his life on the farm, developing a deep passion for a trade all but forgotten with an older generation. As a 2-year-old, he would sit on his grampy’s lap watching Herrick steer the tractor and operate the bucket. 

“I have a video of his preschool teacher asking the entire class in front of all the parents, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I still hear that little voice say. ‘A farmer,’ so loud and proud and it’s still true to this day,” his mother, Kari Nadeau, said.  

Tired of sitting on the sidelines, at age 5 Brayden began learning through firsthand experience, driving tractors and eventually operating heavier machinery by himself. Today, Brayden operates all the machinery on the farm by himself, apart from his grandfather’s truck. 

“We always joke that we think Brayden’s first word was tractor,” Kari Nadeau said. “At first I thought it was just what every little boy talked about, about the tractors and trucks. But he’s never really grown out of it and if anything it’s only matured over his years.” 

Last season was the first time Brayden took a leadership position on the farm, Herrick said. Not only did he do a majority of the labor, he no longer needed instruction on how to do it. It was during that time Brayden showed genuine interest in growing a garden, Kari Nadeau said. Before he cared more about livestock or hunting.  

Last Christmas he asked for a greenhouse to germinate his seeds and keep the mass of ever growing potted plants out of his grammy’s garage. It opened up new possibilities for Brayden to grow more plants for longer periods of time. 

“The other day I went to the farm to pick him up,” Kari Nadeau said. “I hadn’t been there in a little bit so to see the difference in growth was quite impressive. We were driving home and I said what made you decide to have so much passion for growing a garden. He sits straight up in the seat and says, ‘mom you just take this little seed and it just grows into these big things.’” 

With Brayden’s contributions, Herrick’s garden has rapidly expanded and the barn has doubled in size.

“We always had a garden but it was just enough to feed our family,” John Nadeau said. “It wasn’t to the point where he could sell vegetables on the side of the road. He’s got a little bit of everything down there. It’s really been good for him.” 

Brayden wants to invest the money he makes from his vegetable stand back into his garden for next season. Eventually he hopes to take over his grandfather’s position as head farmer.  

Brayden says his grampy has taught him everything he knows. 

“As far as the values and work that he is learning from Dan, I don’t know if he just looks up to him so much that he’s just gravitated towards it or not, but he’s an old soul a little bit,” Kari Nadeau said. “There’s a connection there that you cannot deny, those two walk the same, talk the same and are the same.”

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