Advocacy is NOT easy. Promoting and supporting your industry and your livelihood sounds like something that should be easy and always enjoyable. But, it is not always liked or the most beautiful thing to do. There are always nay sayers out there or people who just don’t know what you’re talking about.
Education is often the most important aspect to advocacy. When you break down the daunting details it can often seem less scary and more understandable. Often times I feel like when I break down the issues, people understand my perspective. You just have to explain and educate others on the issues you are advocating for.
But advocacy is not just hard as a task. It can be emotionally trying as well. Advocacy can often test your mind and emotions. It can test your values and morals. Standing ground and defending your work can be emotionally exhausting. It wears on you and sometimes to the point of wanting to just stop.
But to me the hardest part about advocacy is the emotional strain it can put on your family. For me, advocacy means I am away from my home, my kids and husband. I travel to Washington DC and Sacramento to advocate and share our farm story with people who don’t understand the struggles we face or need an explanation of our way of life. This means being gone from family and the very people I am advocating for. Being gone from the farm and the people who are working so hard everyday to ensure your farm thrives.
When I am absent it can cause double duty for my husband, my mom and members of the farm back at home. My husband and family are often times pulling kid and farm duty so I can be gone. My mom takes time away from her home, so she can help manage my home while I am gone. My mother and sister in law often step up to shuttle kids and help with meals. Kids miss Mom and want more time with Dad, causing my husband less time at the farm. My brother and father in-law often are having to fill in while my husband can't be at the farm as often.
My kids are young. They don’t understand I leave to advocate, so they can have a future. They see mom leave and want me to stay. I leave them so I can go tell others the need to protect the farm for my kids. I want them to have opportunities in agriculture just as mu husband and I have had. I want my kids to be able to farm if they wish and have agriculture as the foundation of who they are. I advocate for them. For the next generation of farmers.
Before I leave, my kids and I draw hearts on the palm of our hand. I tell them to hug it whenever they miss Mom. It is the little reminders that Mom is with them. It keeps the tears less frequent and the hugs more often.
My biggest hope is some day, my kids will understand they motivate me to advocate for them. I hope that someday I can say, I helped to keep agriculture strong. I worked my hardest to ensure agriculture had a future. That I was there and I told my story. I let my voice be heard. I had a seat at the table to defend, promote and protect agriculture and the family farm.
To all those advocates out there. I see you. I see your struggle with life, work, advocacy. I see the pain and stress. I see the ache and hard work.
It is NOT easy. It is NOT glorious. It IS beneficial. It IS purposeful. It IS effective.
You are a rockstar and agriculture needs you!
Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny