Environment: Making it better wherever you are
WALKING WITH A FARMER
Have you ever walked with a farmer? On his land. Through the muck. Around the puddles. A few weeks ago, I got to walk with Ned on his farm in Yolo County. I asked him how he decides which crops to plant. He said, “Do you want to see my spreadsheet?” We kept walking. Farmers never stand around much. I’ve known a few. They like to walk and talk.
I’ll bet his spreadsheet is really interesting. He explained a little of what’s on it: soil health, seed production, climate variables, water issues, pest control, biodiversity factors, ecological balance, machinery requirements, consumer demands, market timing, vendor reliability, and other details.
“How many workers?” I asked. “Oh, a little over a hundred,” Ned replied, “I treat them as professionals with full healthcare benefits and pensions. Those that show they want to assume more responsibility are promoted. It’s the right thing to do,” he stated with assurance.
I wonder how many American farmers treat their employees with that level of respect.
We kept walking. I listened, interjecting a brief comment or additional question only when necessary. I didn’t have to prod the conversation. I noticed that Ned really wanted to tell me about his farm. I could have walked with him all day. Ned had a real love for the land. It reminded me of many great walks I had with my father, across the fields of his farm, as he related to me the importance of taking care of the land.
I grew up in a small town in Northeastern Ohio. Both sides of my family were farmers. I used to spend summers and weekends out at my grandparents’ farm way out on a dirt road in the middle of Amish country. My grandfather grew vegetables on a one-acre plot. My grandmother grew flowers alongside the house. They went to market every Saturday to sell their goods - that was way before farmers’ markets were hip. During the week, my grandmother had a roadside stand in front of the house. People would drive out on that dirt road and stop to buy her fresh peas and gladiolas. She had a little basket on the table where they could leave the money. Trust was a given.
Farmers understand trust. Plow the ground. Prepare the soil. Plant the seeds. Guide the growth. Reap the harvest. Respect your workers. Run an honest business. Values worth adopting in any venture, wherever you are in life.