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Doing What You Love

March 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I wrote this last August for a different blog, one that I don’t use much, anymore. It seems appropriate for this one.

Wednesday afternoon turned out busier than I was expecting, and partway through it, my evening plans ended up being canceled. So, I was a bit bummed out as I drove home from north of Fontana, after a late afternoon AgriGold Seed meeting. When I was near home, I realized I was short a few ingredients for dinner, so I wheeled into John’s farmyard on my way past.

John is a former plumber, whose grandfather raised vegetables. John always had a dream of farming himself, and he had managed to make a bit of money plumbing, enough to buy an 80 acre chunk of ground east of Hebron, IL. He’s rented it out to a grain farming friend of his for several years, but last year, took back a few acres to start raising vegetables for roadside sales. It was a bit of a rough start; his entire tomato crop was wiped out by late blight, raising crops of any kind on the scale that he was doing it was new to him, and there’s always a learning curve starting a new business.

This year has gone better than last year for him. He’s more established, customers have increased, he can’t get enough chickens to lay eggs fast enough to keep up his egg business. And he has a tomato crop this year. We invested a bit of money into fungicide, and that made a huge difference from no tomato crop last year, to a good crop this year. The tomato failure had weighed pretty heavily on him all winter, and he was determined that wouldn’t happen to him again, this year. I hadn’t talked with John for a couple of weeks, so it was nice to stop in and see him packing tomatoes for sale, knowing that I had a small role in making that happen for him.

I admit, I didn’t just stop there to buy a few onions, peppers, and potatoes from him. John’s got a lot of enthusiasm for what he does. He’s really happy working his ass off raising vegetables. I drive by his place at least twice a day to and from work, sometimes more than that during the day, and I’ve seen him and his wife out in all weather, hoeing and spraying and picking and pruning. But he loves it. And it shows. Being around someone that happy with what he’s doing, that enthusiastic about making his small farming business grow, you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face. Along with a sack full of tasty vegetables to go into the stir fry. So I did. And the stir fry was really good.

John stopped in the grain elevator today, to buy some corn for his chicken flock. He has an expanding egg business, and is planting even more acres to veggies again, this coming year. Really looking forward to his fresh broccoli and fresh eggs.