As someone who thrives in a bustling city, I never pictured myself enjoying work on a small farm. Still, I am open to new experiences, and I decided to apply for a position working weekends on a local, family-run farm in Southern California, Tanaka Farms. To my surprise, I have loved working on the land and teaching others about the importance of farming.
I have the opportunity to lead tours where people can learn about the farm as well as pick their own vegetables. There's something about picking food from the ground it grows from that is so much more rewarding than grabbing it in a grocery store. I see the childrens’ and adults' faces light up knowing the onions or tomatoes they are picking can later be part of a delicious meal, or that the pumpkin they pick will soon be carved into an imaginative creature. I see the faces of surprise when they learn that a banana tree will only flower and bear fruit once. I see the looks of fascination when they see our vertical farming and hydroponic techniques.
Still, I see how the farm I work on, as well as many other farms across the country, are struggling to stay afloat in today’s environment. People care more about convenience rather than knowing where their food came from; small farms restore the connection between the food people eat and the land they live on. Many small farms donate food to communities in need. Small farms also create jobs for thousands of people. We need small farms, and right now they need our help. It has been eye-opening to see this first hand.