Springfield, MO

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Ozarks Profile

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Owner of Sunshine Valley Farm Market, Bakery & Cafe, Junction 125 and Hwy. AD, Rogersville. Sunshine Valley will open for its fourth season April 13, though Wooten has been selling fresh fruit for eight years. Wooten and her husband, Michael, raise apples, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and peaches, selling them fresh and also making pies and value-added products such as jams, barbecue sauce and Sunshine Valley's own Raspberry Vinagrette salad dressing and apple butter for sale. The cafe serves lunch during the season each day and Wooten also raises vegetables in the summer: lettuce, peas and green beans among them. Patrons can buy fresh fruit and vegetables already picked or pick their own in the morning, Wooten said. Wooten is the immediate past president of the Missouri Horticulture Association, serves on the Blueberry Council, the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association, is vice chair of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation Board, is on the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and the Civic Park Advisory Committee.

Age: 51.

No. of years in Springfield/area: 20 years, a native of New Jersey.

Education: Received a bachelor's degree in French from Denison University in Ohio and has taken several horticulture classes at Southwest Missouri State University.

Early career: Taught French to eighth and ninth graders in Montgomery County Maryland, near Washington, D.C., while her husband completed medical school, then moved with him to Tucson, Ariz., while he completed his residency. She had a secretarial job in Arizona, and then stayed out of the work force while she raised her two children. Her husband became active in the military and that took the family to Hawaii, but they returned to Tucson afterward, and then came to Springfield. In taking on the farm project eight years ago, Wooten was turning what she loved to do into her career, she said.

Current projects: Has been experimenting in the kitchen with new menu items for lunch at the cafe and is planting trees and getting ready for the growing season. She spent the winter pruning and catching up on her reading.

Management philosophy: "I try to make the work experience here as participatory as possible," Wooten said. The advantage of working on a farm is that there are so many tasks to be done, so that if you get bored with one, there's always something else to distract you from that for a while, she added.

Spare-time pursuits: Enjoys camping, reading and playing with and walking her two dogs, both German Shepherds.

Family data: Married to Michael, a gastroenterologist at Smith-Glynn-Callaway Clinic. Their son, Jeff, is married and living in Dallas; daughter Catie is a sophomore at Cornell University.

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