“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
During our last seminar we had the opportunity to spend time in Washington D.C. and its neighboring Virginia counties. The Capital is always an impressive site. The monuments and memorials capture the rich history of our nation. Through triumphs and struggles, progress and fallen heroes, we have always found our way…but only together.
The hard work, dedication and values at the core foundation of our country, no so coincidentally, is the same glue that binds the agricultural community. I have never seen a group of people, field or profession so passionate about helping others and so willing to lend a hand.
In Loudoun County, the struggle for fair land use regulations has brought together producers across all types of commodities, local leaders, and concerned citizens. In order grow agriculture in Loudoun, this group works together to keep agriculture at the forefront of the citizens’ community priorities through marketing, promotion, mentorship, and assistance in seeking financial support and certifications.
The farmers in Loudoun work closely with Virginia Cooperative Extension to ensure that farmer and consumer educational tools are readily available. They work with economic development to help create sales and marketing channels in their community and in the greater D.C. area. They work with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation to ensure they have a seat at the table when state and federal government works on legislation that will impact their families and businesses. The farmers work with other farmers to gain knowledge, form partnerships and seek mentorship.
During our visit to Endless Summer Harvest, we heard from a panel of local farmers and officials who knew each other (WELL!) and worked together on a regular basis. We got to hear from a produce farmer who employs differently-abled adults, a local food safety agriculture agent, a local wool buyer, and several others. These people are very different, but they have found ways to work together to help each other and themselves. Each person on the panel had time to share their story and tell us more about their work. What I noticed from our host Mary Ellen, is that she was excited to show us around and tell us about her business, but she was MORE excited for others on the panel to share their stories and successes. Booker T. Washington once said, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
Mary Ellen, like so many others in agriculture, wants to see her neighboring farming friends succeed. None of the success we heard about during our time would have been possible without the power of teamwork. So often we get in our own way in the pursuit of progress. If we have the courage to ask for help, collaborate with others, and live with gratitude, we will be happier and probably more successful in the process.