An Essay: The Smell Of Ag
I can smell it. As I’m driving down highway 1, heading south through Moss Landing and into Castroville, there is it. That smell. The same smell that wafts through the fertile Salinas Valley with ag fields on either side of you and as far as the eye can see on many roads. The smell of earth. Of freshly turned dirt. Of recent harvests of countless vegetables. Of plant material being disked back into the fields, aerating the soil while infusing nutrients with organic plant material. Green. Fresh. Abundance. If these things have a smell, would this be it?
It’s the rich, unmistakable smell of agriculture. Of farming and hard work, heat and sweat. Of fog and mist that blankets the Monterey Bay area, often not burning off for days. That moisture that keeps the infinite fields with their rich soil and new growth fortified one droplet at a time.
I breathe deeply and take it in. I look forward, to my left, to my right, and am in awe. Forever in awe at what the hard work and planning and perseverance of skilled plant breeders, farmers, and field crews – combined with Mother Nature in all of her fickle unpredictability – can produce. I pass armies of harvest crews in and amongst the furrows and feel a deep sense of respect and reverence for their tireless and sometimes underappreciated work. I know how vital they are to this industry – and to feeding America, and beyond.
For me agriculture is about resilience. About dedication, determination, and stamina. Being able to continually adjust and adapt to ever-changing conditions. Being competent and capable isn’t enough; you have to be nimble, forward thinking. Plan for the best and prepare for the worst. There are so many factors in farming today to produce a seed, then grow a plant, then harvest a vegetable, then package a product. Getting to the point at which any fresh fruit or vegetable makes it to the marketplace seems like a herculean effort.
Then I go out to a cauliflower field and see a bright white golf ball sized cauliflower head peaking through its host plant’s dense foliage and am in awe once again. The mini sized, but exquisitely shaped and textured little orb of perfection leaves me in amazement.
And all is well with the world.