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!
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.
Oregon Aglink President