And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker!” So, God made a farmer!

God said I need somebody to get up before dawn and milk cows and work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So, God made a farmer!

I need somebody with strong arms. Strong enough to rustle a calf, yet gentle enough to deliver their own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry and make their own lunch because their spouse is working hard too. So, God made a farmer!

God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks, and shoe scraps. And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish their forty hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back”, put in another seventy two hours. So, God made a farmer!

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop on mid-field and race to help when they see the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So, God made a farmer!
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bales and yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets…and who will stop the mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard day’s work with a
five mile drive to church.

Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when their child says they wants
to spend their life “doing what their parent does”.
So, God made a farmer!

No matter your religious background I hope this poem still speaks to you. It lays out how hard a farmer works. I’m sure you can’t deny that you work very hard at your job. The author of the original poem is unknown but it was first made popular when John Harvey read it at a Future Farmers of America Conference in 1978. Then Dodge recreated it into a Super Bowl commercial. I tweaked the above poem, to make it more gender neutral to reflect the change in agriculture, especially in the small flower farming industry. I am a farmer and darn proud to be. Whenever I read the poem or hear the recording I get goosebumps. I am a woman farmer. A farmer isn’t a gender. A farmer can be someone who produces something other than food.

In early February our local farm paper did a Facebook post recognizing Canadian Ag Day. The photo that accompanied it was of 5-6 farmers, all pictured with a food product that they produced. Agriculture is more than food production. I wrote to the Ontario Farmer to remind them that not all farmers produce food. I said that I was a farmer who produces “food for the soul”. They recognized their omission and on Valentine’s Day they posted a few pictures of me and my work. The post with my story ended up being their most popular and was liked and shared hundreds of times. They didn’t omit pictures of other types of farmers in their original post on purpose. It is a norm of society that people think of food when they think of a farmer.

We need to think of ourselves as farmers. Don’t discount what you do! Flower farming is farming. We are probably more in touch with our land than a farmer who works a thousand acres of wheat. We are in our fields every day. We are harvesting/weeding/planting simultaneously. Many times, we are the end seller of our products too. We are the face the consumer sees. At markets, customers have said to me “Your flowers beds must be so pretty”. I respond and say “Yes, our flower fields are beautiful”. Even if you are growing in your backyard, you are a farmer. Make sure people know that. Be a farmer. A farmer isn’t the cartoon image of an uneducated country bumpkin.

Farmers in all industries work with very sophisticated equipment. They have to be very knowledgeable about what they are growing or raising. So much of farming is becoming computerized or streamlined. Even spacing charts, succession planting, and seeding schedules are not basic information. It can take some time to wrap your head around those concepts. We are all drawn to cutting-edge plant breeding and always on the quest of the best most profitable way to do something. Introduce yourself as a flower farmer! They say dress for success: that can be a nice pair of jeans and a pair of Blundtstones too!

When you are on the quest to learn the best way to grow a crop or be successful on your balance sheet, make sure you are looking to the right education streams. There are many ways to learn how to do what we do but make sure the source is reputable. There are priceless books, Oscar quality online workshops, and flower friend confidants you can look to. Don’t take every bit of advice or information you receive as the gospel truth. Not all learning techniques work for everyone; find the one that fits you best and take it all in fully.

I often read some really bad advice in Facebook groups. It may be correct in Zone 7B but totally different in 5A! Social media can draw us in to the dream but are you getting the full picture? I am proud to work with the ASCFG executive and board members to deliver the best quality information that is applicable and relative to as many of the group as possible. When making decisions about what we will offer to the members we look back to our mission and the reason we exist:

The ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It does this by providing production and marketing information; connecting members through events and communications; supporting floriculture research; and encouraging the purchase and use of locally-grown flowers by the public. Its mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product.

Flower farming a great profession to be in, and no one understands the excitement of the first bloom like another flower farmer. Be a smart farmer, one who is cutting edge and very educated about everything flower. Then the public will see you as a farmer, one who is “Out standing in their field.”

Janis Harris

Harris Flower Farm

Janis Harris Harris Flower Farm [email protected]