I am an optimistic day dreamer who loves adventure. The wild stories in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland remind me of my own rabbit-hole adventures. Like Alice, the stories begin simply based in reality and then branch off into various directions through new characters. Thus the plot unfolds, and conflict ensues, creating a multi-dimensional story. My stories are based in the land of Golden California, and the characters are growers.
I invite you to join me as I dig into the meaning behind the work of those who are conductors to the plants, trees and vines. I promise that you will be amazed by the insight and wisdom that will be shared by this group who are individually as different as they are a like — unique in personality yet alike with a common thread of optimism and hope.
I’m a San Joaquin Valley native, who grew up in Fresno County’s countryside. My family home sat on 2-acres in the rural area between the city of Fresno and the Kings Canyon National Park. My parents moved to the countryside when I was 8 years old because my parents were raised on farms in the Midwest.
We had more trees and vines for neighbors than people at our family home in Sanger which provided a daily backdrop of production agriculture. My mom grew her own vegetable garden. I loved the garden . . . the smell of blossoming zucchini or searching for green tomato worms among the plants while chocolate-brown mud squished between my toes.
A mile away from our home was a large citrus grove that provided a walking path for my mom, sisters and I on summer evenings. In the winter, the same grove hummed me to sleep as propane-powered fans buzzed tirelessly during evenings when temperatures dropped in the 30s. The fans (along with irrigation water) raised the temperature to ward off freeze damage. Also close to home were several Southeast Asian families who grew a vast patchwork of vegetable crops — working every single day of the year — and ruby-red strawberries. The berries, grown for juice production, were only sold fresh at roadside stands.
Why I launched farmingfables.com?
As an adult, and professional, I’ve been astounded to learn that the growing conditions in California are unique when compared to any other agricultural region in the world.
Second, I’ve been amazed by the people who farm.
For multi-generation farming families, they are defined by the first-generation who migrated to California and majority of the time worked in the fields. The first generation share a similar beginning as they worked the fields to save money for a single goal: purchase land. Today, the third, fourth or fifth generation family members run the farm with added responsibility to keep the family business afloat in honor of the sacrifices made by the earlier generation. A profitable farming business is more about duty than profits.
Farming isn’t an easy job. California’s climate for agribusiness has changed dramatically in the past 25 years with government perspective shifting from minimal regulatory oversight to an mandating nearly every aspect of farming. Regulatory compliance comes with a price which has tethered the sector’s profitability when coupled with increased marketplace volatility.
In the past decade, there have been a number of large operations that have closed their packing operation and/or sold their farm land to larger farming operations. Part of this consolidation among farmers has been fueled by changes in the retail grocery industry. In the mid-to-late 1990s, retail grocers experienced major consolidation through acquisitions and mergers to create national and regional chains (click here for USDA source). Farmers found that they were no longer dealing with local grocery buyers, but large chain stores with an appetite for consistent volume and uniform quality. The changed dynamics has shifted where the retail buyer has tremendous buying power and has the ability to set its own requirements on the grower, which generally requires additional expense to satisfy.
What is it about?
It’s 2017, the fresh produce industry is in the midst of major changes as growers are in a state of flux with ongoing adjustment. This fluid state has created a vulnerability among farming operations. It is as though the industry is morphing into a newer version of itself. At the core, ag will always be ag based on core principles but the “how and what” is changing into a more sleek, and transparent creature.
I live in the middle of this activity. Collectively, it is something like watching a time-lapsed sequence of photos of the moon dancing across the sky. The pace is slow. Movement can only seen by those a tune to the ebb and flow of the minutia in ag to recognize the steady yet powerful change taking place.
I bring you stories, insights and observations that will allow you to experience the change taking place in California which affects the world. Transitions taking place that affects a different type of business, one founded on moral principles bound a simple handshake.
Many years ago, I was a newspaper reporter and loved the work. It truly was an ideal situation for someone like me who enjoys learning and then taking the information to create a story. As objective, as any reporter maybe, that person is beholden to their core and life lens they peer through. Nothing can alter that, so that is why I have a firm belief that each interaction (interview) is unique to the individuals involved. Because of the one-of-kind experience I treasure the exchange and feel strongly about properly documenting these stories.
I have worked with the ag sector for more than 15 years with many incredible opportunities to learn about it.
This site was designed by a highly skilled, Fresno-native Mr. Pablo Ruiz de Chavez. Pablo not only was the creative mind who brought farmingfables.com to life but he was the one who came up with the name! I am forever grateful to Pablo for sharing his talent so that I can share mine with you!
Join me on some rabbit-hole journeys created for you. I invite you to read and be prepared to have your intellect and imagination engaged. Please come back each week, as I share a variety of stories. Subscribe here to get an email when a new post is made. I’ll provide you with other sources to expand your ag-knowledge and learn about the simple yet complex lives of California growers.