Inside Enko: Meet Greenhouse Manager Beth Salemma
Image credit: Tim Llewellyn
Welcome to our Inside Enko series! Here, we’ll introduce you to our team members and give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work with us. Read on to meet Beth Salemma, Greenhouse Manager at our new headquarters in Mystic, Connecticut!
Tell me about your background. How did you come to this line of work?
I first worked in greenhouses while I earned biology and chemistry degrees at Providence College. After that, I was a research assistant at Yale, but that job didn’t feel quite right. I took a risk and responded to a job ad in the paper. Soon after, I was working at Monsanto’s greenhouses in Mystic and stayed there for 16 years!
After taking a break to raise my kids, I started looking for a job again in early 2020. On March 17, I got a call about a role at Enko and went through the entire interview process during Covid-19. Now I’m back in my old stomping grounds as the Greenhouse Manager in Mystic!
What’s your favorite part of working in the Mystic greenhouses?
I feel like I’m building a home in the greenhouses for a second time. We’re in this bucolic site with so much potential, and the space is all ours. On a cold winter day, the greenhouse is the very first place I want to be.
What’s one big thing you’d like people to know about your job?
I love my job because I get to use the experimental scientific part of my brain – working with chemistry and collaborating with other scientists – but a big part of it is also nurturing the plants. We ask ourselves, how do we create experiments that will lead us in the right direction and produce beautiful, quality plants?
What’s it been like to transition from a big company to a startup?
I love the pace of a startup. It’s so fast, and your priority list changes all the time. In big companies, everyone has their lane – greenhouse people stay in the greenhouse, and lab people in the lab. Here, you have to cross those boundaries and make connections to get the job done. That’s really exciting to me.
It’s also exciting for our team to build Enko’s culture together. It’s awesome when new people come on because it brings new life and vibrancy to that culture.
How have things changed in Mystic since you started working in the greenhouses in 2000?
When Monsanto left the Mystic greenhouses in 2016, there were 40 people working there and only one left the Mystic area. That says a lot about the town. Once you’re here, you see how much it has to offer.
While we don’t have the hustle and bustle of New York or Boston, we have lots of entertainment –theater, music, sports, museums – many great farm to table restaurants and a big agriculture movement. It feels like a seaport, but you can drive 20 minutes north and be near local farms. There’s always something to do with my kids. It also has a lot of small town charm. In the winter, everyone settles down and it’s very cozy.
What excites you most about Enko’s move to Mystic?
What’s most exciting to me is the potential of what we can grow and do here. We recently interviewed someone who works on banana fungus. How many people can say their job could involve growing bananas in a greenhouse in Connecticut?! There are so many new things we get to research and set best practice protocols around.
I’ve had a friend and my in-laws reach out to me about how exciting it is that Enko received an investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I love the worldwide potential of working in agriculture. There’s a lot of good we can do.
Want to work with Beth and help grow the Enko team? We’re hiring! Check out all our open roles here.