“Farmers are the only businessmen crazy enough to buy retail and sell wholesale.” I’ve heard that quote attributed to several but it remains true.
Another one is “farmers are price takers, not price makers.” We’re sort of like fishermen that way. Buy a boat, take it out in the ocean at no small risk, maybe catch something, maybe not and when we get back to the dock, they tell us what we’re going to get for the fish. Try explaining that business model to your local bank!
But when I talk to those fishermen, I meet the same steely eyed resolve you would find in a group of farmers. I’m gonna make this work or die trying.
For farmers, it’s bugs and bureaucrats and weather and markets. And we’re going to make this work or die trying.
So, with all of that, what makes you want to be a farmer, Uncle Vern?
You know, growing up, then in high school, FFA, college, my own little farm, I was really proud to be part of an industry “that fed the world.” That’s how we looked at it.
There’s also the legacy thing. My granddaughter just started kindergarten at Washington Elementary here in Kingsburg, where her mom attended, where Carol and I attended, where my mom and dad attended, and where my grandfather attended after arriving from Sweden where they farmed back to Adam Adamson.
There was the “be your own boss” thing, but if you’re going to be successful, that means everyone’s your boss, including your employees.
After 42 fruit seasons, here’s what I love about farming, why I’m happy our adult children are involved and why I hope our grandchildren will be:
Satisfaction on many levels. The satisfaction of meeting the season of days with all its challenges complete. Of looking back at day’s end and saying: “That field is happy now because of my work.”
Family close, arguing, complaining, approaching differently—I read that next generation problems are rarely solved by the present generation—but each pulling their weight, contributing positively.
But here’s what really melts my butter that I wouldn’t have ever thought of way back there. Through farming, through our little lemonade-stand-sized business, we get to participate in dream-realization every day.
First, we facilitate each employee’s effort to reach their full potential within our structure and applaud if their journey takes them elsewhere. A few doctors, lots of teachers, you name it often come back thankful for the start they got here; others of us have stayed for our full career.
Many new beginning farmers have made a go of it with us, many existing farmers have gone from struggling to success. Others have concluded farming isn’t for them but have been grateful for the honest opportunity.
And people looking for food they trust from farmers they know find it here at the AHO lemonade stand. Dinnertime boredom is dissipated by new produce every week, and healthy prepared food, snacks, and meal kits help the busy eat healthy.
Farming is a really great life. For me, it’s a calling that I would do (have done) for free if I had to. The rewards aren’t what you would think, but for lots of us, wholly satisfying.