Missing teeth - rednecks - hillbillies - uneducated - yahoos. Those are a few things that were said to me about farmers while I was living in different large cities over the years. Seriously. The ridiculous stereotypes I've heard when I mentioned that I was from Arkansas and my family owned a farm would make your head spin.
Funny enough - and as incorrect as those assumptions really were, I started talking less and less about the fact that I was from a farming world in Arkansas (and on the border of Louisiana). It's not that I ever was ashamed of it, rather I just got tired of waiting for negative responses, wise cracks or smirks while sharing cocktail banter with misinformed city people. And I got tired of having to constantly defend it and decided to simply stop mentioning it. How sad.
When I left my business and career in Los Angeles to take over my farm, embrace it full-on, I was now much older - an independent adult who'd spent my 20's, 30's and the start of my 40's in cities - pretty much living on my own. I'd not been immersed in any farming community - nor with my farm - since I was 18. I didn't know what to expect or how I would be received when moving back. And there will be some stories about that later on as I refurbished my grandparent's old house that was in major disrepair but still my version of paradise. (Pictured here!)
But to be candid, I was in for some eye-opening moments being reconnected with a farming community and I became reminded about a farmer's spirit - and who most farmers are. And this became the foundation of the concept of Farm Star Living.
1. Farmers are smart. Not at all stupid. In fact, they're some of the smartest, best-educated people I've met. They're up on the stock markets, machinery, weather patterns, environmental issues, seeds & the issues surrounding seeds, planting techniques - and how to do it, harvesting requirements - and how to do it, wildlife issues - and how to protect them, botany, government programs, etc. They just don't wear their smarts on their sleeves.
2. Many of the farmers I've met would have the Hollywood talent agents clamoring. The all-natural, rugged good looks that come from hard work, adventurous/courageous spirit and having the 'street smart' edge (or in this case 'field smart' edge) often read as charismatic good looks to me! Yet most of them will only be seen, acknowledged, or admired in their small-town communities.
3. Farming's a noble profession - and a tough one. Yes, some years there will be great money made; other years will wipe it out and be a bust. This can happen when one least expects it, too, and quickly - because of a sudden hurricane, tornado, rainfall, drought - or polar vortex. Farmers can't plan for these, and often this can set one back so far he/she may not ever be able to recover financially. That reads as courage to me - and inner strength.
Things are changing - and have changed. More people are concerned today about their food - and who's behind it - than ever before. I'm proud to be at the helm of a website that encourages us all to get to know and support our farmers - regardless of political affiliation - and get to know them as people so we can better understand who's behind our food. They are all very proud to be, just as I am proud to be, of service. But most of all, I'm proud to be a farmer - especially one from Arkansas (& Louisiana)!