What if farming didn't exist
After watching one of the best commercials during the Super Bowl in my estimation — the Dodge trucks tribute to the farmer — I pondered, what if farming didn’t exist in the Orange Belt. What would the town be like, life be like, the environment be like.
If you missed it, the ad was the late Paul Harvey, the famous radio commentator, who recites his 2 minute speech he gave at a 1978 Future Farmers of America convention behind the backdrop of farmers at work, with their families and in their communities.
In his speech, Harvey keeps answering his questions with, “so God made a farmer.” He said that farmers are the caretakers of the land, that farmers are the salt of the earth are driven to take care of the land that gives them their livelihood in return.
Now, this is pure conjecture by my part as to how our area would look if it were not for farming, but indulge me a bit.
First, there would probably be fewer people, fewer stores, fewer roads and fewer bridges. If the land around Porterville was not utilized to its fullest by some of the best farmers in the world, it would be full of weeds and tumbleweed the size of houses. It would be dusty every day as the fallow land laying baron is exposed to the wind.
We certainly would not have the beautiful orange trees that roll out over our foothills and into the Valley from just north of Bakersfield to past Orange Cove.
More importantly, we would not have a way of life that is really simpler and more down to earth than what you find in the large cities. Plus, it would be unlikely that Porterville would have replaced farming with a large industrial base. We are not on the main corridor and with an unskilled labor force, we would not be that attractive of a site for large industries, so there would be less jobs for young people.
There are those who might want to wonder what Porterville wold be like with farmers and farming, but I am not one of those. I believe farmers are the foundation of the community and without farming, Porterville would be just a small spot on the map, offering little, including a daily newspaper or large retail stores.
Without farmers, we would not hold the values that an honest day’s work is healthy, that producing something from the land is a nobel profession, and that raising your children to grow up to be as solid a citizen as you is a duty.
So, maybe for Porterville, “God made a farmer.” Thanks Paul Harvey and Dodge for reminding us.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.