Oregon Aglink Blog

The Learning Goes Both Ways

Posted on April 21, 2020
President Fred Geschwill
Oregon Aglink President Fred Geschwill

What does Oregon Aglink mean to you?

For some people, it’s all about getting kids onto farms through our Adopt a Farmer program. Some people see it as a bigger effort to show those “city folk” what agriculture is. For others, Oregon Aglink membership is as simple as a discount on insurance. And for others, it’s a chance to get together with far-flung friends from across the state at a killer annual dinner auction.

For me, as I step into my year as Oregon Aglink president, I think first about how the organization helps me reach people from other walks of life. I get to share how blessed I am to live on a farm with my family, but that also gives me the opportunity to learn about people who live in a different environment than I do. 

The learning can always go both ways.

I have friends in Portland who don’t own cars, for example. Yeah, they don’t own a car! Then again, why would they? They walk or ride their bike a mile or so to work. They can get across town with a bus or an Uber. Why would they spend thousands of dollars on a car? What we feel is a necessity is a liability for them. It’s all about perspective.

When I talk to my friends about living on a farm, they frequently ask “How big is your farm?” The concept of a section, 100 acres, 5 acres, or even one acre is foreign to them. No matter what I answer, a look of amazement often crosses their face. Our farm, which has passed down a few generations, is something that I see every day. We use it to make a living and raise our families. I view it as a part of my life, but for someone who makes a living in a city that concept might be vague. They might view wide open farm ground as a national resource, something akin to a national forest. “Why would someone own so much land?” they might wonder.

This opens up a chance to really explain what it takes to be a farmer or rancher, and how many resources are required to make a living raising crops and livestock. These things are new to them in the same way I am still working to understand why my doctor friends spend so much money for a tiny office space in a building downtown. They might ask why someone would own so much land, but I ask how it can possibly cost that much to pay for insurance to be a dentist!

All of these people are the same as me in many ways, yet quite different. It’s not a fundamental difference in who we are as much as a difference in the environment where we live and work. 

Oregon Aglink is an opportunity to learn from and communicate with people from all walks of life.  I challenge each of you to take time and make a friend that lives a completely different life than you.  Travel to their world and spend a little time there. Take an Uber to a community deli together and meet the people they spend time with each day.  Then ask them into your world, take them out and walk a field,  let them see what you do when you get up at 5 in the morning to  start irrigation or feed the cattle.  To me this is what Aglink is really about: learning about our fellow Oregonians and trying to understand each other.

So I challenge you to take a chance, step outside of your comfort zone and meet other Oregonians.

Fred Geschwill

Oregon Aglink President