In honor of Earth Day today, I wanted to feature a farmer who really cares for the earth. But, frankly, that’s every farmer I’ve met. Despite what you may have read from the anti-ag folks, farmers know they need to care for the earth in order for the earth to produce their crops. And they do a good job of it.
But, the purpose of this blog isn’t to preach to the choir, so I’ll get on with it.
I decided to feature today a woman named Karen Sweet. She raises beef cattle with her husband, Darrel Sweet, on a ranch the Sweet family established about 150 years ago. She’s also a constant voice for the conservation efforts from California farmers.
I know Karen only from interviewing her for my radio programs on AgNet West, and from running in to her at various ag-related events. I’m constantly impressed with her care for the land, and the work she does to not only promote conservation among other farmers, but to show the public how much ag does to care for the land. And she knows, there’s always room to do better.
Karen is the California Coordinator for the Leopold Conservation Award from the Sand County Foundation. (I’ve provided links there so you can get more on the award and foundation.) She’s also worked with the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition and other conservation organizations.
But what do I like best about her? She has a great smile, and a warm, friendly personality.
Now, before you think I’m overly simple, let me tell you why I like those things best. Besides the obvious (a great smile and personality are always nice), there are other reasons.
I’m a member of the press. Yes, I’m agriculture press, and most people know that I’m an advocate for California farmers. But the first time Karen met me, she didn’t know that. Still, she approached me with a smile and friendliness, and told me the story of how farmers are caring for the earth.
It’s a story that needs to be told, because so many of agriculture’s advisories are telling other stories. Fables about the evil farmer, dumping chemicals into water and draining soil of its nutrients. And many members of the general press perpetuate those fables. The true story of agriculture needs to be told, and the best way to tell that story is to be approachable, open, and, yes, friendly.
Karen doesn’t know I’m writing this about her. If my suspicions are right about her personality, she’ll be modest about what she does. But she’s really an everyday hero of the ag/earth connection.
So, thank you, Karen, for being a champion for agriculture’s true story, for being part of organizations that recognize farmers who are doing an exceptional job in conservation, and for helping ag to do more to protect the earth that means so much to all of us.