Everyone has to start somewhere. The majority of us don’t have everything served to us on a silver platter. It was no different over a hundred years ago when people made their way over from the Philipines, Japan, China, Korea, Portugal, and other countries. They left their familiar places in search of better opportunities and hopefully a new chance at life in many cases. They all took a huge risk but did so for a better future for their families. My great grandparents left Okinawa for that same opportunity. Agriculture was what allowed for this to happen. It was a stepping stone to a better life.
Although agriculture has changed significantly over time where only 2% make up its labor force, it still remains as a good first step for many people. Whether it’s a large corporate seed company or a small local farmer, the opportunities available provide a stepping stone for many local folks across our state. It’s an unheard story not told often enough in any sensationalist news story in today’s media.
People don’t realize that a farmer also has to cultivate good people and values. Without the people power to run the farm, there would be no farm. He needs hard working, honest, and reliable folks to grow his crops. He helps cultivate these values in the many workers he has hired over the past 4 decades.
When he started off farming, the workers were mostly all teenagers from around our neighborhoods. My grandmother would call the neighbors to see if anyone wanted a job. Because opportunities for teens weren’t plentiful, many jumped at the opportunity to earn some money.
Many of these teens had family issues occurring at home. Some came from single parent homes, some were experimenting with drugs, failing school, or on the verge of getting busted for drug crimes. My dad worked with these kids to keep them out of trouble and stay out of mischief. He taught many boys what good work ethic and not to be afraid of hard work. It was these values that indeed helped the in the future. Many of the followed through and became a police man, electrician, and plant pathologist.
As the years went by and his farm moved to the BYU campus, the labor pool changed too. College students and high school graduates became the next farm hands. Teens no longer wanted to work the farms in this day and age. With limited opportunities for local folks in these rural areas, any job was good.
Many people who have been hired on the farm haven’t had many work opportunities before and have had some trials in their lives. Not many employers want to hire someone with no skill set or past criminal history. With no work, some of these folks get into trouble that further sets them back. Working outside and being given a chance to work is a stepping stone for these folks.
My dad gives anyone willing to work hard a chance at the farm. He mentors them on how to work hard and sets expectations of them. He is the best example of someone who work hard and expects that of his workers. He helps them even with setting goals for their life and mentors them. Farm work doesn’t care if you got busted for something or don’t know how to work. It’s a place where one can learn how to develop yourself as a person.
As tough as he is as a father, he has the heart of gold when it comes to people. Note that this does entail some yelling and nitpicking on how he wants the job done. He helps his workers to develop good work ethic and teaches them to take initiative. The belief is that by instilling these values in a person helps them in every aspect of their lives. Many of his workers have come from broken homes and have not had good examples to follow. He becomes their role model to them and they learn to respect him.
Some of his workers haven’t had good educational experiences either. He has taught them basic math many times and basic finance issues. Some can’t read or write well either and he gives them the skills to develop these basics that too many of us take for granted. He doesn’t turn these people away as he sees the opportunity for them to learning it while on the farm. Farm work doesn’t discriminate against a person but takes them in and teaches them so many lessons.
The activists who have never been on a farm or even ran a farm will never understand or see this picture. When given a chance, a person can develop many skills and learn the value of hard work. It’s something that can’t be learned on the Internet or by protesting. Neither do activists ever give a chance to people who are down and out. If anything, they take away these opportunities by their misinformation campaigns and scare slogans. They don’t realize that their hobby activism goes beyond hurting just farms. It hurts the people who work on these farms. The same applies to all the politicians who jump on this bandwagon and misinform the public about agriculture. They do favors to no one.
Farming is so much more than growing things. It’s a place to learn, grow, and develop oneself through hardwork and dedication. A farmer is not just a cultivator of plants but a cultivator of people.