Thursday, July 3, 2014

Meet your farmer - Part 2

A Continuation of Get to Know your Farmer Series: 
Farmer Eric Buzby

I was born to a couple of adventurous start-up farmers. My parents brought me home from the hospital to a condemned house. I remember, when I was maybe three or four, pushing my tricycle to the top of the kitchen floor, hopping on and squealing with delight as I coasted down hill to the other side of the kitchen. The floor was sinking. That section of the house had no foundation and every year Dad had to trim the door a little smaller to fit the shrinking doorframe. We were pretty much poor, but I never knew it, never cared. I was happy to be with my parents. They were both there all the time. I never remember either of them going away, ever. Both of them worked on the farm, we lived on the farm, and we really didn't have much reason, or financial ability to travel much. We were just there. Together. I have two younger brothers who really were my best friends and playmates. We rode bikes, played in the woods, ran barefoot down the lane. Simple living, really.

Andy and Eric playing tractors.
I had my first taste of farming at the age of 10. My dad granted me the use of a 3/4 acre field adjacent to our house. He advised me to grow watermelon. I started the transplants from seed. He did the work that I was unable to do. Such as plowing, laying out the irrigation, forming beds, laying the plastic, transplanting the plants, and irrigating.......... in retrospect, he basically did most of the work. I was responsible for three very important jobs: hoeing the weeds, picking them, and... (here comes the good part) selling them. I set up a roadside stand in front of my friends house on Kings Highway. By the end of the summer I had sold $800 of watermelon. I now considered myself independently wealthy. I was able to buy my own (well used) dirt bike for $475 and still had enough left over to fix it up. This was an important lesson for me about the value of farming. I now know that it's not as easy when you have to do ALL of the work, not just pick and sell, but still, it's a thrill to know that what we grow is valuable to others. Our friends and neighbors are willing, even glad to pay for quality fresh produce.

As a high school senior, I found myself confronted with the big decision. Where to go to college. Whether I should even go to college. School had never been a joy to me. I preferred to be outside. However, I was strong in math and science and accordingly was accepted by the University of Delaware and Rutgers as a Mechanical Engineering student. After being accepted, I was struggling to feel comfortable with the idea of actually working as an engineer. Machinery had always enticed me, but the thought of hours in an office made my palms sweat.

There was another factor at play here. My girlfriend of three years was a serious cutie. Smart (top of our class), graceful, a farm girl herself. A real keeper. As I thought about starting a family with her, I harkened back to my early years, running barefoot down the lane, seeing my parents work and having access to them all day, everyday. I wanted my children to experience that. With farming in mind, I switched my major to Bioresources Engineering. My cute girlfriend agreed to marry and we had our wedding my Junior year. Was it difficult being married in college? Not as difficult as being apart from this girl another day. We sure stick together to this day and always.

Wedding Day
High School Homecoming

My motivation for farming comes down to two things: family and meaningful work. The seed of family togetherness was planted in me as a child and grows strong within me today. To know that we're together in this makes all the difference. I wouldn't .... couldn't do it alone. And as far as meaningful work, people have three basic needs right? Food. Shelter. Clothing. Food is first on the list! It's so basic. Everyone needs it. I have noticed how some people are getting upset these days about certain types of food and how they are produced. I asked myself why are they so upset about this? and I began to realize more than ever that food is more than just a basic need. It's deeply personal. You are what you eat. Knowing this, I feel deeply honored to have the privilege of growing food. It's a responsibility I don't take lightly. I'm glad to be a part of this great, time-honored profession of farming and I cherish each day I can do it.

1 comment:

  1. Forgive if you've already answered this question, but where on the scale from certified organic to regular conventional farm does your farm fall?