If you're from a farm family, you probably don't need a holiday to remind you to be grateful for everything your dad taught you: whether it was how to drive a tractor or how to follow a budget, chances are you're still using some of those lessons every day. But with Father's Day coming up this weekend, we’re thinking more than usual about #agdads. We asked a few Ceres Imaging staff what it was like to follow their fathers into the industry.
PHOTO: courtesy Candace Balestra
Grower rep Candace Balestra’s roots in farming run five generations deep: her "old-school Italian" family grew everything from cherries to pears until deciding to specialize in grapes in the 1980s. She grew up playing hide-and-seek in the vineyards in Fairfield, California—finding the best spots in the grape bins or behind curtains of ripening fruit.
Despite a childhood spent in the vineyard, Candace never came under pressure from her father to pursue agriculture. “He always told me to do whatever I wanted,” Candace says. “He’d say, ‘If you want to do this, it’s here; if not, that’s fine.’” But was he happy when she scrapped plans for nursing school to become a PCA? “We don’t talk about it much,” Candace says, “but yeah: I think he was secretly pretty pleased.”
Candace's dad took over from his own father in his late twenties, balancing the family and the farm with work as a journeyman welder. “He’s something else,” Candace says. “He doesn’t have an ‘off’ button."
On top of his work ethic, Candace has inherited her dad’s long-view of farming sustainably through the generations. “It’s the way of life," she says. "The values are different — there’s a certain integrity and heart that goes into it, because the land is your livelihood: you have to care for what you’re growing to be able to provide for your family at the end of the season.”
PHOTO: courtesy Matt Ribeiro
What kind of role model is an ag dad? Grower rep Matt Ribeiro puts it this way: “I don’t remember my dad ever sitting down to watch TV. I don’t remember ever waking up before him. He’s that guy.”
“From my dad I saw what hard work looks, and I saw hard work balanced with family. He sacrificed a lot to make sure he was there for us: he always made it to games and events, even at the expense of having time to himself."
Matt’s father grew up working a dairy that had been in the family since the ’40s, then got into almonds after college. But like Candace’s dad, Matt’s never pushed him into farming. “He told me, ‘Whatever you’re going to do, you have to love it, and if it’s not here, it’s not here. If you want to go and try some other things, I’ll support you.’”
For Matt, though, a life in ag made sense: he’s always been drawn to the freedom, the problem-solving, and the community. “For as long as I can remember I’ve had a good taste in my mouth for the industry and the people in it. It’s people like my dad: good, solid, honest, and hardworking.”
Continuing his dad's work sustainably is a point of satisfaction for Matt, who still combines his work with Ceres Imaging with responsibilities on the ranch. “A lot of hours have been put in to this ground by my dad, myself, and other family members. The work they did caring for that same ground, that tree or that plant or those vines, now I’m going to do it, and at some point maybe my daughter will. There’s a level of pride in doing what your father did before you.”
If you've got an #agdad, how did he influence you? Maybe he hoped you'd take over the farm; maybe he hoped you'd pick an easier line of work!—either way, we'd love to hear about him. Leave us a comment, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.