Saturday, March 28, 2009

BIG Gardeners

Rainbow in the East touching Galva IL

While driving home one beautiful fall day, there were many farmers working the fields. Soybeans were being combined, hay cut and some farmers had started on their corn.

The corn beside our home is over eight foot tall and beautiful. What a Blessing to live in an area of the U.S.A. where our farm communities feed the world. These farmers produce safe healthy products with such expertise and energy it is often taken for granted.

No longer “simple” farming, these farm families must buy, operate and maintain equipment that most of the world doesn’t even know exists.

Choices of what to plant, how to plant and when to harvest is a science.

The kinds of breeds, feed, healthcare and markets that the earlier generations could not fathom.

Specialty and local farms must compete with corporate enterprises and imports.

Yet today, our farm families are still feeding the world in spite of the increasingly high cost of virtually everything they need to keep the business productive. As former President John F. Kennedy put so well, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”

We take these farm families for granted yet they may be entering another period of financial struggle. In spite of hard work and the intelligence of a Rhodes Scholar, farming is a difficult profession to make a good living and to support a family. As another former President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

What can we do for our neighbors?
Ÿ Buy your 4-H livestock locally.
Ÿ Buy your meat from local producers.
Ÿ Frequent groceries that sell “Made in the USA” .
Ÿ Stop at that roadside stand selling their own produce.
Ÿ Shop regularly from the family selling eggs.
Ÿ Tell the farm family you appreciate what they do for you, the community and the world.
Ÿ Watch for signs of stress from the struggle to stay in business and if you perceive problems, offer your help or help them find help.

Our farm families are not some distant entity, they’re our friends and neighbors. Most gardeners have less than an acre to work or finance. If it fails, we try again but mere beauty in a yard isn’t the same reasonability the farmer must bear. Failure on their part may mean not providing for their family, loss of the family place, future decisions they may not want and we would not want for them.

You may not be able to toss a bale of hay for your neighbor but simple understanding and thanks goes a long way. Working the land is a noble profession and I quote Statesman Daniel Webster, “When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.” They’re the BIG gardeners.

Have a safe harvest neighbors!

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