I had the distinct pleasure of driving through rural Wisconsin recently. While in the rolling hills I saw a roadside stand with a hand painted sign that said FRESH PRODUCE – I had to stop. The farmer himself was standing there polishing his produce with one of the many rags he had on the table where the bounty of zucchini and yellow squash sat. In the small plot behind the stand were rows of tomato plants, neatly spaced and well tended to. That was his specialty. He also had an old red International Harvester tractor sitting nearby. He confirmed that was his favorite vehicle ever.
In the large machine shed behind the modest house appeared to be a John Deere mega-tractor with 8 wheels each the size of Charles Barkley. I asked what he did with that behemoth. That was his son’s favorite. While the old man, who reminded me of Mr. Green Jeans from the Captain Kangaroo show, tended to the 1 acre plot of fresh vegetables, his son tended to 1000 acres in the neighborhood growing corn and soybeans. The mega-tractor was equipped with more computer technology than an Apollo spacecraft. The cell tower loomed in the field across the road, allowing the remote irrigation systems to communicate with the master computer in the house.
So there I was standing at the crossroads of the modern world. An artisan, whose craft was growing the finest fresh vegetables for the neighbors to consume, was next to a producer, capable of feeding thousands all across the world. Our advances are astonishing. We are able to feed so many more people, with so much less labor and such phenomenal yield per acre. The tribute starts with the old man and continues on to the next generation. My hat is off to both!