Yesterday, I happened to check down on my phone and received a text from my mom that one of our farm employees had collapsed and needed to be transported to the hospital. He had been picking papayas and suddenly collapsed. Luckily, he regained consciousness while in the ambulance.
I was really shaken up by this because Dean is family to us. He has been with our farm for several years now and a dedicated, hardworking, and humble person who has helped to get papayas out to thousands of people all over our island. The general public tends to forget that behind that papaya they eat every morning is a person’s sweat equity. Dean’s collapse was just a huge reminder to all of us that farming is a tough and dangerous job.
My brother, Mike, has been supported by Dean’s dedication to the family farm. Without Dean, Mike would be putting in a lot more hours and probably much more tired. Every person on our farm is important to us and we consider them family. One year, Dean had broken his glasses accidentally and had to be without it, which made it really hard to function. My kind hearted brother decided to do something for him and went to our family optometrist, Dr. Taylor Tom, who helped to get another pair of glasses for Dean. As a small token of appreciation, Mike presented Dean with a replacement pair of his prescription Oakley glasses at Christmas. Dean was so grateful as was my brother for all of his hard work over the years.
Although farming has become demonized over the last several years, I know for a fact that farmers are some of the most kindest and generous people around. Not only do they put in long hours, risk their finances at times, and dedicate their lives to feeding people, they truly care about their communities. They aren’t getting any richer from all of this work but what they do get is a lot of thanks from those who appreciate what they get from farms.
People have spread rumors that my dad is so rich that farming is just his hobby. Actually, if he was wealthy, you can bet he’d by buying that custom made tractor implement or a brand new, high tech sprayer, and other modern conveniences instead of trying to engineer something himself. Farming is a love for him and he’s trying to set up the farm to be passed down to another generation. He is the example to our family that you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work to get what you want out of life and that develops a sense of appreciation once you’ve got there. Things just don’t fall in your laps and you’ve got to work for it. That’s farm life and something too few can appreciate in this day and age.
Kindness, humility, and honestly is something we farm families know and we strive to take care of each other in our communities. We will stand by the truth and support our and ask that others learn about our work before they form an opinion without even stepping foot on a farm. No one is getting wealthy from the farm but the experiences learned on the fields is something that no money can buy and lives in us everyday. Farming means family to me and don’t think that anyone can try to disparage family without knowing us as people first.
When you look down at that food you’re about to eat, think about how it got to you and all the people involved in growing it. It was the agricultural communities around our country that helped to fill your stomachs and nourish you to do greater things. We’ve got to support ways to help make their jobs easier, not harder. They already have so much at risk with weather, unexpected events, and now the age of misinformation on the internet. We should not be blocking technology while having no clue on what it takes to farm. That’s simply not pono.
Support your farmers, each and every one of them. If you’re leader isn’t planning on supporting them, they are attacking our ohana. Farming means family and in Hawaii, agriculture is one big family.