In the third installment of our Faces of Farming series, we speak with Greg France, who grows strawberries with his wife in California.
ND: Has your family always been in farming?
GF: I grew up in a farming community, but my family was not in farming. But I had a lot of farmer friends, kids that I grew up with, and there was one in particular, actually three brothers that I was really good friends with, and their father was a farmer and I just really looked up to him and had a tremendous amount of admiration for him and what he was doing and that's when I said to myself, I'd like to be a farmer.
I farmed off on the side a little bit as I was working for other people, but it was just in 2004 that we started farming on our own and when I say that, that's my wife and I. And it's, for us, really not a vocation. It's more like a lifestyle. This is what we do, this is what we love, and we enjoy it quite a bit. It requires an awful lot of time, an awful lot of effort. We work together, we vacation together, we sleep together, and we're still married. But we really enjoy what we do.
ND: I work in digital media. The people that I work every day with are literally spread out around the world, as are the people that listen to this podcast. And I could do what I do from anywhere. But as a farmer, you are tied to a specific place on the planet in a way that many of us today are not. What does that mean to you? How does has that shaped your life?
GF: Well, when you're having a tough season, you sure would like to move somewhere else. But we are tied to the soil and now that we're tied to the state that we operate in, my wife and I are very active and involved in our communities. We work quite a bit with the boys and girls club, which really helps our employees. Always a consideration is childcare and child activities and growing your community big and strong. My wife and I are dedicated to that.
ND: What are your hopes and fears for the future of farming?
GF: Wow. That's a pretty all encompassing question. I don't see it being any easier. I see it being actually more and more difficult. As you opened your show, less than 1% or 2% of the people in the United States are farmers now. And I don't think there's an understanding of all it takes to do what we do and to support the people we do support. And I'd really like to improve that appreciation and understanding. And I think if we did that, it would make our jobs just a little bit easier. It's not easy; it requires a lot of work. But it's a passion of ours, it's what we love to do, and if you'll just help us do it, I think that would be really great for all involved.
ND: Greg thank you so much for spending some time with me today and giving us a chance to learn about the lives and the people behind our harvests.
I will be back next week with the last in our Faces of Farming conversations and I’ll be talking with almond farmer Brian Wahlbrink to hear how almond growers are working on conserving water and making their crops more sustainable. And you can hear entire Faces of Farming series on the Nutrition Diva podcast.
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy thanksgiving celebration, and sending out a special thanks to all the farmers who made it possible.
Image of strawberries © Shutterstock