This blog post is not to tell you what all I’ve learned, but instead to give credit where credit is due. (And believe me, this is long overdue!) So here I am, citing my source for all of my accomplishments and knowledge thus far.
Greg Gunthorp is a pioneer in the sustainable agriculture movement. He broke free of the industrial chains that were tightening on American farmers. In 1998, when some hog farmers were choosing to shoot and bury their hogs instead of selling them for 5 cents a pound (or less if you had to transport them very far), Greg found a way to keep his hogs. No matter what problems he faced, he took it upon himself to create a solution.
Lack of federal processing facilities? He built his own. Lack of industry and government support for “little guys”? He became their voice everywhere he went, whether that be by sitting on President Clinton’s Small Farm Commission on a national level or fighting for small processors’ ability to slaughter chickens here in Indiana . Lack of finances? He did not cry out for subsidies or government assistance, but instead devoted every hour of every day into the business.
There are a lot of farmers and individuals in the ag industry who do not like Greg before they have even met him. (This became apparent to me throughout my time at Purdue, from small remarks at the dinner table and in classes to almost full-blown arguments at the bar.) What most do not realize is that the biggest things Greg stands for are rural development and paying farmers what they deserve. I do not see how anyone can be upset with that, no matter what your production practices may be.
Greg Gunthorp is my mentor, role model, and also my dad. I might be biased, but how could I not be extremely proud of him? He built a company (actually 3 companies) from the ground up, centered around his morals and values, during a time when no one in their right mind believed what he was setting out to do was possible. He built a company that not only is self sustaining, so neither of my parents have to work off the farm to pay for the farm or support our family, but also is now employing myself, my brother, twenty other full time employees, and at least ten part time employees. This is rural development!
I have attended numerous events with Greg in my lifetime. After every event, I have people approach me and tell me, “your dad is so amazing.” Yes, he definitely is. He has a passion for what he does that is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met. Many people will search their whole life for a mentor who is as passionate, knowledgable, and willing to teach as Greg is and yet here I am, lucky enough to have met him twenty-two years ago.
I am so excited to dive deeper into my journey with Greg and with Gunthorp Farms and with sustainable agriculture as a whole. I hope that with the help of Greg, I can become a voice for the small farmer and for rural advocacy like he has become. I also hope I can help share Greg’s knowledge that would otherwise be wasted on just me as the only member of his audience on our drives to Indy and Chicago.
More posts to come in the near future. I already have some topics in mind, but feel free to leave topics or questions in the comments below.