Notes from the Executive Director
The call to the farm seems to be stronger than ever. Maybe it is at an all-time high point. Many individuals are retiring early, no longer can tolerate being bored with their government job or they simply want to see a miracle happen every day-something growing. They come to agriculture because it has the ability to make them whole, it completes them the individual. They seem to enjoy the process of making something work, the art of production it seems. They produce to sell, barter, or trade honey, organic crops, field raised hogs, chickens, grass-fed beef and whatever it takes to sustain them.
At the local markets which may be miles away or just down the street. They are quickly accepted as a part of the community. They have vigor and pizazz. On occasion, they are called hobby farmers. With no or little farming experience and a few acres of land and their cashed out 401Ks, savings, retirement and anything else they can scrape together to buy land and used equipment, they come ready to live. They come excited about watching stuff grow. They bubble with enthusiasm about taking it to market. They put together several cluster occupations ad products and sit eagerly at the kitchen table to plan their marketing, to count money from sales, to total costs, and to plan what adjustments need to be made to keep old equipment working, and find new markets.
This trend is not limited to age or income or even land ownership. Some are young, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed but all are filled with hope and the stuff that dreams are made of. They want to feel life in everything they touch and desire to be free and valued by themselves, their customers and their farming community. They have no intention of giving in or giving up.
"It is not hard when you really want to"
No, they have no intention of giving in or giving up. Tractor roll over deaths lead the way for young inexperienced farmers. They sit there with that old, on its last legs, tractor in C-4 and 2100 RPMs, to many pop that clutch out and watch in horror as the front end rise up off the ground. Don’t you just pray that they clutch it before it rolls. I do wish we could save them all. Just think of the fortitude they come with. To them agriculture is not big business, not thousands of acres of land, not 15,000 mama cows. They are armed mostly with hopes and dreams and the gleam of peace and happiness and dirt under their finger nails because they have been blessed, and now they have found fulfillment and themselves.
I would wager you my lunch that most of those who will read this newsletter know exactly what I am talking about. Some may even long for those days again, that fresh feeling, a new start flooded by dreams of possibilities and, and yet to be realized desires. Yes. I see the dirt and grease under your nails, and the smile on your face that says I have Faith, a little money and 24 hours in a day. I can do this!
I have this feeling every day on my way to work and all day at work. I do not hang my hat on what I see at the at the Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station (BAERS), but on what I know it can become. I know that it will take much effort, many days and money we do not have in the bank, but be assured that that we are not about to give up. When it is all said and done, we at BAERS will provide invaluable services to new and beginning farmers and ranchers, military veterans, and minorities. We will focus on reproductive physiology, bull testing, protein content of hay, semen collecting and storage. We will host seminars and work sessions designed to transition hobby and beginning farmers into agriculture safety.
We will always endeavor to involve experienced and current farmers in listening sessions where they talk and we listen to what their needs and how we can be a better research station. We will work very hard to create success partners by combining efforts, talents, and great ideas. There have been times when many of my best ideas were borrowed, adapted and not returned. So all new ideas are in danger of being carefully considered and wisely used. If a flower can grow through a crack in the sidewalk and blossom. I believe that this research station can do the same. Ultimately, we will create “a wall of partners.” At this very second, you are asked to have your name or that of your company listed there to indicate that you too say the challenge is difficult but you saw a good fight for the future of agriculture, and decided that the only thing to do was join the battle. Think of the 23 acres, an old tractor, a couple of implements, high RPM’s, and thoughts of releasing that clutch for the first time. What are you going to do? Find me and let’s go all in.
Fred Gainous, Ed.D.