I remember going to a young group worship at my friend’s church back in high school that pushed me outside my comfort zone. I grew up in a southern, conservative Church of the Brethren congregation, so going to my friend’s nondenominational church that had a full band and a “creative worship” night where the members of the congregation sang, dance, painted, etc, while the pastor delivered the message was intriguing to me. As I watched others around me worship in their own way, the words of the preacher stuck with me.
He opened the message by pointing out that he wore glasses or contacts everyday. Then he posed the question: “What would happen if I got in the car without wearing my glasses? I can still see – shapes, colors, the general direction I’m going in – but what sort of damage might I cause on the way to my destination? When I wear glasses, it doesn’t magically make my vision better, it just adds the focus I need to get from Point A to Point B.” What is vision without focus? A hot mess, that’s what. The ability to add clarity to a situation can make all the difference between blundering dangerously along your route or arriving safely to your destination.
Throughout the 11 tours along our national trip, the consistent theme was “vision with focus.” Whether it was the generational Happy Cow Creamery who were before their time on rotational grazing or the Yon Family Farm who started from being farmhands to owning and operating a diversified beef and pecan business, the production tours were filled with stories of intentionality and grit – there was no decision made on those operations that was not drafted, vetted and executed without a focus of long term goals. We saw large, established companies like Titan Farms that have been growing peaches and produce for decades and we saw small beginning operations like White Hill Lavender Farm which was bought out by one of its regular customers a couple years ago. One of the most inspiring tours for me was the 920 Cattle & Company stop. Becca and Jarrod Creasy are only a couple years older than me and own a multifaceted business with entities that include a cow/calf operation, a fencing business and a butcher shop. Both of them had a background in production agriculture, but they moved away from their respective homes to build a business from the ground up – they are technically first-generation farmers and are killing it.
During the tour, I raised my hand and asked what advice they had for other young producers who were trying to make farming a reality. Jarrod’s response encouraged learning from others and absorbing information while jumping in with both feet, staying driven and motivated until you made your dreams happen. Becca, the economist, followed up with “and make sure your numbers work.”
I’ve got plans for the future – how they are to play out are yet to be seen. But this last trip down south reaffirmed that if you have a vision for the future and stay focused on your goals, the future is bright.