Once upon a time there was a pristine valley where land and water were abundant and people few.
Rain watered the grain fields that covered the land.
Then someone planted a peach tree, and had to dig a well to give it water in summer.
“We weren’t the first farmers here. There’d been wheat growing maybe fifty year when somebody told Pa there was Danes in Selma and the soil was good. I was five.”
This exhibit pays homage to those who came to a semi-arid valley to till its fertile soil. And pays homage to a time of plentiful land and water, and the mountains both east and west told you this was a valley.
Small farmers are conservators of the valley. We provide food for the nation and jobs for our fellow residents. We love the land – the soil – the dirt as it were.
We appreciate every drop of rain and conserve ground water for future generations. We don’t make much money. The same as most every small business. Only enough to survive and try to give a better life for our kids.
We have adversaries: sun and rain are our friends. But too much or too little can destroy a year’s income.
Not enough rain costs us dearly and eats up any profit because we have to pump expensive water with expensive electricity or do without, and not make a living that year.
The companies who pack our fruit and who market our crops take their profit before we get paid.
Labor costs come out of our profit.
We live not month to month, but year to year. An ill-timed frost can wipe out an entire crop for the year.
Some years we don’t have as large a crop, or hail can damage fruit, or locusts or other pests destroy part or all.
Prices are not set by the farmer but by the middle man companies or the government. Even if we only sell at fruit stands we can only charge what people are willing to pay for the bag of oranges or walnuts.
But there are few other occupations that satisfy the soul as well as farming.
Times have changed. There is always Progress.
There are always those who come after -- the people who feel they are improving upon what was, before them, perceived as the perfect way of life.
The tillers of soil spoke of improvements they made to the land that was held in respect in its natural state by the natives of that land. But the farms were productive, and life was good.
Villages grew into small towns that always took adjoining fertile, productive farm land. But the towns were pleasant to dwell in.
Homes that were nurtured and prized in the towns were demolished to make room for high-rise buildings and freeways. But the architecture was of excellent workmanship, of the best materials; travel was quick and the life-style exciting.
All these changes were not bad, except to those from whom had been taken.
Land and Water.
That’s what it’s all about. At a time when it seems everyone is focused on climate and drought, there must be a reverie of the good times. Of the good soil. And the good water.
read more: farmer dialog from childhood memories