Choosing a career after college can be a daunting task. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I often resisted the idea of coming back to the family farm, especially after hearing phrases like "just going back to the farm," "oh, you're just studying agriculture," and "are you really sure?" I felt like many thought that going back to the family farm was settling. I would love to go back to those who made those comments before and tell them all that I have learned and accomplished in just my short time back at the farm.
It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.
Let me tell you what, I could not be happier with my choice to work for Gunthorp Farms. I have been throwing around the idea of this blog post for awhile and finally decided that with Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity. I want to take a few minutes to share why I am so thankful to be a part of not only Gunthorp Farms, but also the local farm to table movement.
First and foremost, I am thankful for my family, who also happen to be my co-workers. All five of us are involved in the business on a day-to-day basis. We have weekly family meetings where we all come together to discuss the direction the farm is heading and any changes that are occurring from week to week. I spend more time with my family members during the week than I do with anyone else. After spending 3 years away at school, I am so thankful for the time I get to spend with them.
Because I am thankful to work with my family, does that mean it is always a walk in the park? Of course not. We disagree, sometimes more than we do agree! But am I beyond thankful to have co-workers who see me as more than an employee? Always. I appreciate that the business has given us a common goal to strive towards together. I treasure getting to bounce ideas off of each other at any given moment. I love that they always have my back when I need some reassurance.
I am so thankful for the small town I grew up in. (Although if you've ever been out to the farm, you will know that I didn't really grow up in a town... or anywhere close to a town... so by town, I really mean the whole surrounding area.) I consider Gunthorp Farms an integral part of our community. We employ around 20 full time employees and 10 or so part time employees, often local high school kids. We give people in the community the opportunity to make a living to support their family. We give high school kids the opportunity to develop a good work ethic.
I am thankful that Gunthorp Farms encourages me to be involved in the community as well. I volunteer somewhat regularly with Junior Achievement at the local middle school. I get to teach students about economics and mentor them in regards to their future career paths. Gunthorp Farms has also helped local FFA students with their FFA projects and we have also given tours to local college classes. I think it takes a village to raise strong individuals and I love the fact that Gunthorp Farms strives to be a part of the village.
One of the biggest reasons I chose Gunthorp Farms and one of the biggest benefits of working there is the future that I can have because of it. Gunthorp Farms is a small company and I get to be involved in the decision making of the company. I feel confident buying a house in the area because I know that the farm is not going to up and relocate. There is room in the business for my future spouse to work at the farm if he so chooses. When I have children of my own, they can be involved in the farm just like I was when I was growing up. I will be able to move my hours around so that I can be present for my children and their activities. Working for Gunthorp Farms can help me achieve the future I envision and for that I am thankful beyond belief.
I am thankful for Gunthorp Farms because of the meat in my freezer, for sure, but also because of the food security that Gunthorp Farms and other small farms provide. Heaven forbid there ever be a national crisis where we as a nation would not be able to import any food, but thank goodness I know that Gunthorp Farms' doors would remain open and meat would still be available. This relates not only to Gunthorp Farms, but to the local food movement as a whole. I know that in a time of crisis, farms in the local food movement like Gunthorp Farms, Seven Sons, or Hawkins Family Farm would all be available to help keep meat on local tables.
I believe that you can never have too many farmers. When my dad was a kid, there were 600,000 hog farmers in the United States. Now there are 60,000. Ninety percent of hog farmers disappeared in his lifetime and I want to help turn the numbers in the other direction. That is why I am so thankful for the opportunities that Gunthorp Farms gives me when it comes to advocacy work. I am a huge supporter of the local food movement, the farm to table movement, sustainable agriculture, and small meat processors. I believe causes like these will help give more individuals the opportunity to continue farming and it will help move a larger portion of the food dollar into farmers' pockets.
I have so much to be thankful for because of my job at Gunthorp Farms. I would love for more farmers to have these same opportunities, which is why I will continue to use my position at Gunthorp Farms to advocate for small farmers.
This is such a big category and nothing I can write here will do them justice. I am in charge of sales at Gunthorp Farms, so I am the contact for all of our wholesale accounts. I also drive the Indianapolis delivery route, so I get to see all of them on weekly basis. I am sure all farms who work directly with their customers say this, but we really have a great group of customers.
Before 1998, my dad was selling live pigs to buying stations. The buying station was as close to the final customer as we got, and let me tell you, you do not feel very appreciated when the buying station hands you a check for 5 cents a pound for your trailer full of live pigs. At that time, I was four years old. I remember crying on a few occasions as I tried (and failed) to convince Dad to take a pig I had deemed my favorite off the trailer. How do you explain to your four year old daughter that it is necessary to take the pig to slaughter when you will be lucky to get $20 for the hog? How do you continue doing your job, that is in no way easy, when no one appreciates the work that you do? To be completely honest, I do not know how my parents continued.
Prior to 1998, our pigs were not appreciated and neither was the hard work that my parents did to raise the pigs. Thankfully, that is not the case now. Every hog that we raise, slaughter, and process is appreciated. I know this because I get to interact with our customers. They are excited to put our meat on the plates at their restaurants and on the shelves of their grocery stores. They send me emails about how thankful they are to know their farmer and they encourage their own customers to buy locally grown food as well. What we do is a lot of hard work, and I think I speak for all of us at Gunthorp Farms when I say that we would not continue doing what we do if it weren't for the continued love and support we receive from our great customers.
This holiday season, take the time to thank a farmer and to thank a local business owner. Your appreciation will mean more to them than you will ever know.
Happy (early) Thanksgiving from those of us at Gunthorp Farms!
Allow your passion to become your purpose and it will one day become your profession.
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