Many readers of this column live in communities adjacent to, maybe even surrounded by, part of California’s unique agricultural empire. Some of them may not appreciate the personal value of their surroundings.
Even farmers, who maintain the outlying landscape and usually reside in it, don’t remind their urban neighbors often enough about the esthetic value that blooms so near to them. While uch of the unspoiled beauty available to city dwellers is not local – the coast, mountains, lakes, the desert – but agricultural beauty prevails near them from one end of the state to the other.
Except in population impacted zones and inner city communities in the Los Angeles basin, the San Francisco Bay area and perhaps portions of urban San Diego, agriculture thrives within a few minutes’ drive. Its freshness and often its aroma can even penetrate and prevail on those trapped by an urban curtain.
But this column is not offered to those mired in urban sprawl and downtown mediocrity. It is more likely to be understood and appreciated by residents of Selma, Delano, Marysville, Modesto, Tulelake and Tulare. While they are city bound they can enjoy the world-renowned agricultural beauty and greatness that surrounds them, perhaps within walking distance.
And the beauty expresses itself repeatedly, with leaves and blossoms anew, maturing fruit, developing grasses and grains, daily production, healthy growth and expansion as well as busy and productive people helping maintain an economy that benefits those in town, out of town and even far away.
Much about farm life is new each day; blossoms and beauty appear today where only the promise was apparent yesterday. Work includes land preparation today, planting tomorrow, cultivation, irrigation and crop protection a few weeks away and eventually harvest. Different outlooks and mindsets, equipment and approaches are required fresh for each challenging phase.
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It is more than a subtle economic influence that the proximity of farm life and rural reality impress on urban neighbors. Cities in the farm empire benefit measurably from the needs and production of their rural neighbors. Farm equipment dealers, hardware and tool outlets, bulk petroleum sales, usually locate within communities, even if the bulk of their business is done with farmers outside the city limits, And farm families rely on food supply chains that hover within the urban area, and they share hospital and health services with their city cousins.
Educational structures vary in locales where farm and urban areas overlap and intertwine. While the urban area may boast a half dozen elementary schools and the rural area only one or two, count on students from the rural schools to excel at all levels from athletics to scholarship and debate when they combine at one or more secondary schools
Rural areas maintain a strength, backbone and balance by just being what they are and doing what they do and imparting it to their neighboring cities and communities. And because of the open and natural connections the “country folk” maintain and promote, a spiritual depth that can be pervasive and of deep value reflects to their city-dwelling friends.
It is not unusual for populations of cities surrounded by farm country to believe their farm friends are missing out on something, when the opposite might be true. It’s best when both urban and rural occupants can share the benefits of their somewhat different circumstances and allow them to work to benefit both.
Some of us from farms will be at the movie in town on Saturday night, while others from town may be at the drag races on an obscure country road, but nobody is telling where.