The first time I got a farm lease I immediately called my friend who intimately knew my farming efforts through all the years I held farm internships and wondered when I might get my own place. He said, “This is your big break. This is it. You’ve arrived.”
It felt big at the time, and, even though that lease didn’t last, it was a big turning point. It was a whole farm business run by solo uno: me. But, I’ve learned there ‘s no arriving. There’ll be a few steps forward and some back, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gains. I had to downsize from 5 acres to 3, but then I went up to 7 and this year I’ll have 22. There’s a possibility of 150, though I’ll need much more seed! What hasn’t wavered is the pace of growth in support, and I see that reflected in the media coverage of my farm. I’m grateful to those who encouraged me to share my story with the media early on when I was more a possibility than stability. These media spots enabled people who identify with my values, appreciate my life story, and support my farming practices to find me. That’s what we seek from media, right? We want to be informed about the world and connected to it.
While the media gets much flack these days, I am genuinely impressed by many of the media and journalists I’ve encountered. (Sure, some ask off questions like, “Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Did Vietnamese Americans experience anything similar at the hands of the US government?” or respond to anecdotes of racism with, “There are some bad people out there.”) Their willingness to present a look into farm life for those who aren’t Old MacDonald or future Old MacDonalds and, at times, to use my words without their filter enables our society to see the diversity and complexity of farming. I hope it’ll get people to realize, “Hey, there’s much I don’t know, and I can’t speak for everyone’s experiences. They should be able to speak for themselves and represent themselves in the media and in politics.” Maybe people will sit down. Be Humble.
And inclusive. So, I was astonished that California Grown included me in their “Meet a Farmer” blog. They interview many farmers, and not many of them look like me or farm the way I do. They wrote up the piece with straight up quotes, and expressed sincere interest in my climate change mitigation motives for farming. It’s a small piece of the interweb, but I’m glad to inhabit it nonetheless and it feels like a notable benchmark along my path that intersects with the national conversation about what diversity and inclusion can look like.
Though there’s no arriving, there are milestones on this long journey towards social justice.