Nicaragua Bound, 2013
So! In addition to greeting you all at your favorite farmers markets, I also participate in an organization that has helped shape me and make me the person that I am today. This organization, which I am proud to chair at present, is called the Young Grower's Alliance. Many of you have heard about YGA through Alana's Nicaragua blogs last year - a few other might have noticed that we've been selling apple schntz at market on the group's behalf.
You can get the $0.50 description of what YGA's mission is on the website and that's a very accurate description of our group. However, before we get into this Nicaragua trip specifically, I wanted to address what the group has meant to me. I grew up on a farm - a reality that brings along with it a number of interesting points. While the exposure to farm life and the apple industry provided an indispensable benefit for my current occupation, it can also be prohibitive for those unwilling to expose themselves to new and different things. What I'm trying to say is, if you aren't willing to get off the farm and learn from others and ask stupid questions, you'll never learn everything you could. That's what YGA has provided me. I've met and networked with inspirational folks my age with the same hopes, dreams, ambitions, and stumbling blocks; becoming friends with many of them. I've travelled locally and beyond our borders to New Zealand to gain both specific, applicable knowledge and valuable perspective on what my vision for our farm might be.
By in large, this Nicaragua trip is just part and parcel of this idea - that travel is a great teacher and I'll come home with a richer perspective. However, there is part of this trip that, for me, is a little more meaningful. More notable than my familarity with fruit growing as a result of my upbringing is the good fortune bestowed upon me as I started out in agriculture. I have two capable, experienced mentors in my father and uncle; two willing facilitators who give me some autonomy to pursue many of my goals, but also rich, fertile, well-preserved soils to grow in. I have access to most of the things required to do my job as best I can. I have tools and equipment to do my work (so long as they aren't broken and misplaced, another story)...
I'm very fortunate to have had a farm to come back to out of college. I try not to take this for granted. I see many of my fellow vendors at markets and many other young people in agriculture without access to good land, capital, resources etc. Moreover, the people in Nicaragua don't have access to the basics in many situations, not the least of which is suitable land for agriculture, water for irrigation, and the resources to produce food in enough supply to support their families. And since our YGA group started as an organization populated by folks who grew up on our family's farms (though we'd like to welcome all would be/new & beginning farmers into our group), I look forward to using some of my time and expertise to try to make life a little easier for some people who weren't blessed with the advantages I had growing up.
To learn more about YGA, check out our website. To learn more about Project Gettysburg Leon, for whom the YGA is the current Ag Delegation, check out their website here and don't be shy about becoming involved in these great organizations.
From Our Farm, to Your Home,