After heading to Oklahoma City for the Final Four and AVCA Convention to watch some great volleyball, my travels took me to a farm. A farm? Yes, a farm. What has resonated with me most from that visit was the Farmer’s Creed which hangs on a prominent wall at the farm:
I believe a person’s greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.
I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person’s character.
I believe that farming, despite hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a person can spend his days on this earth.
I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in many ways that money can’t buy.
I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.
I believe farming provides education for life that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways.
I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.
I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feel the pride that springs from their shared experience.
I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all.
I believe that my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellowman, and by this standard I fear no judgement.
I believe when a person grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he’s lived.
Replace the word “farming” with “volleyball” and that is the reason I choose to coach.
This farm is more than a simple farm now, with an operation of over 300 employees, an enormous 200,000 square foot automated processing plant, hundreds of 18 wheeler trucks to distribute millions of tons of produce a year across the country, etc, etc. But it started out over 100 years ago as a small peach farm with a roadside stand and is owned and operated by a single family, now a much larger family.
It is the family unit, their team, their culture, their effort that drives success. The family does not simply go to work from 9:00 – 5:00 each day and head home. They surround themselves with each other throughout their lives and look after each other. When we arrived to visit on a Saturday night, the CEO, VP, and other office workers were enjoying a seafood boil at one of their houses. The following day, 90% of a local church were family members or employees greeting and enjoying each other. Following church, it was off to the plant to get the final goods out of the warehouse at this busy time of year.
The retired elders are taken care of by their children (CEO, President, VPs, etc) that work the farm. While the middle and high school age grandchildren either plow the fields or work in the maintenance shop. They start work at sun-up and work until the work is done for that day. This daily effort is expected and a way of life.
Lots of volleyball lessons down on the farm.