“You can learn everything you need to know about life at a farm.”
Michael once said.
How true do you think that statement is?
In Australia, backpackers come to a farm for different reasons: either for the experience, the visa days, or for some money to travel. You can often tell where the priorities lie for different backpackers.
But who comes to a farm for life lessons?
And who actually might look at translating some of it into real life practice?
I hope I do.
It’s true that I didn’t go there for life lessons but I personally believe that if you take the opportunity to learn from every experience, you will always find little lessons in everyday life. While I originally came purely for the visa days, living and working on a farm has been an eye-opening experience to say the least.
It has provided a fresh perspective (pardon my pun) on the life and challenges of a farmer and also the reality of bringing fruit and produce to our local grocery stores. Unless you are completely blind, you will realize that life as a farmer is very tough. The capital-intensive, land intensive practice yields a business that is difficult to make a profit yet it is completely necessary for our livelihood. Many farmers are in debt or face highly challenging financial obstacles in order to make a living.
Major supermarkets like Coles and Woolsworth sell lots of fanfare about helping the local Australian grower, but more often than not, they are squeezing every penny they can get out of them. So if you want to help more local businesses, you would be best to support IGA, one of the few independents that seem to provide better support for farmers.
Having done various farm jobs that range from moderately challenging to very difficult, I have a much higher gratitude towards where my food comes from and where I can direct my purchasing power over time. So I can definitely say that the life on the farm can teach you more gratitude and appreciation. Along the same lines, you will probably have a greater respect for what farmers are doing to put food on the plate for you.
So, what else can you learn on the farm?
If you take a page out of Michael’s book, you would recognize that loyalty is important in life. People value and appreciate it. And the people who recognize it, will pay it back and pay it forward. Definitely an important life lesson in my books.
When it comes to doing a job, you’ll hear a certain worth ethic promoted by many farmers.
“Do the job properly.”
This is a simple lesson. If you do things properly, you will be rewarded in the end. While it’s easy to cut corners for short-term gain, the long-term implications of having this mantra are obvious. Recognition, reputation, compensation are all things that will benefit your life if you treat your work with care.
The last lesson that I will reflect upon comes from Michael’s wife, Debbie. Michael always notions that Debbie has a simple saying, “Just tell the truth.”
When you stick to that ideology, there is no wiggle room. Telling the truth creates trust, and trust builds strong relationships. Telling the truth all the time is certainly no easy task, but sticking to an honest philosophy builds strong principles and long-term benefits.
Farm life is a lot of things to a lot of people. Fun, interesting, challenging, tiring and memorable certainly come to mind.
But remember all the little things and you might realize that maybe you can learn everything you need to know about life on a little fruit farm.
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