Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where Does This Farm Life Come From?

Posted by JP
Recently I was asked by a close friend, "Justin you grew up in the Bay Area. You have no training and little knowledge about farming. Now you're all about chickens and grapes and farming. Where does that come from?" My answer, "Good Question!"

I am trying to discover that answer myself, but as I reflect, some thoughts begin to surface as to why. I like the thought that I might be able to sustain my family in good times and bad times by looking at ways that we can build communities of people, animals and bugs that can work together to build a better future. Beck and I are blessed to be employed (when many are not), but what happens if that changes or if expenses and incomes decrease? As a banker I understand some of the consequences of our government printing money to take care of promises we as a government can't afford. What happens when our government printing presses catches up to us and our currency becomes less and less valuable. How do I sustain my family in the coming years when that happens? What does my son's future look like and how can I make it better with things that I can control?
These are some of the things I think about, and the answer that I have researched is to build a future and life on a farm. Other (less dire) reasons include:  the challenge, pioneering, planning and executing ideas in a way that could benefit our family. My dream is to get to the point where I create an infrastructure that will not only bless our family, but also be used to bless others and generations to come. To raise a family that could continue to sustain generational wealth and the talents, abilities and dreams of future generations to create something bigger that could impact the future is my ultimate goal.

Those are big dreams for this small 5-acre farm, but these are the things that I think and dream about. Now when I say sustainable, I don't mean; do it all by myself with my own strength and power. I believe that this culture of independence is a modern philosophy that has polluted America and is the reason and cause of so many ills in our society. I want to build a community that relies and helps each other succeed to build a better world and fight against the evils that try to pervert it. I want that community to not only include people, but also animals and bugs all working together to make a more bio diverse and human compatible community that is working to build a better farm and a better world.

Working in the bank everyday I get the privilege to people watch and have noticed that the holiday season brings the best and worst out of people. I love to hear stories of how people are getting blessed by strangers. Like my mom who went to the grocery store before Thanksgiving and got in line and as she approached the front, realized she had forgotten her wallet. The man behind her in line excused himself and very generously slipped the clerk his card and paid for my mom's groceries (under her repeated protests). The clerk began crying and she said, "That is what this season is all about!"

Conversely, I have observed that this time of year also brings out the crazies in people. Tis the season! Tis the season for family, love and cheer and Starbucks red cups. Also tis the season for the unfortunate things that come in life like job loss or loss of income, death of family members, having no family to celebrate with or existing family problems that are confronted this time of year. Tis the season!

I am a banker by day and a farmer by night and weekend. The best part of being a farmer is a farmer's life is dependent on a community of family, animals, bugs, weather and God that make this life possible. My wife does not get the privilege of staying home everyday with LJ, but fortunately we have gracious willing and able parents who watch him while we are at work. I depend on my clients who I have turned into farming consultants, contractors and buyers who continue to graciously guide me through the process of managing this vineyard. I am currently studying how to implement bio-diverse and sustainable farming practices that reduce the use of pesticides so we can preserve our water quality. A couple ideas I am exploring is planting lady bugs and other predatory bugs that could kill the bad bugs that affect my grapes. I am exploring how to use livestock grazing practices that will reduce fuel usage. I want to create a better life for not only my family, but also animals and bugs that could help build a sustainable farm.

My dream is to analyze every part of our life and dissect its impact and try to build better systems and processes that will lead to improving the lives of others. I wish some Wall Streeter's, Politicians, Pastors, Family and Friends would get inspired and begin to dream of a new kind of world, a better world and maybe when all this negative economic hoopla passes, we can achieve to build a better world one family at a time!

These are the things I think about and why I work so hard to make "This Vine Life" a reality for my family. Thanks to all of you who are along for the journey!

Merry Christmas!

(Fall pictures taken by Beck 11/25/11)

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