We’re small, simple human beings.

That’s the thought that goes through my mind every year when we visit the World Ag Expo. Last month, Growing returned to Tulare, California, for the 50th anniversary of the event. The International Agri-Center is a sight. I’m always in awe of the spaciousness. The view coming into the Expo makes for a beautiful skyline.

With apologies to Walt Disney, the world is a big place. I thought about this more as I visited several sessions during World Ag Expo. Some of the discussion was based on the foundation for success. The agriculture industry — in its purest form — is the process of growing and harvesting, and the grower — in his or her small role — must put in the work… to make it work.

For example in his session “How Extraordinary Farm Managers Make Decisions Differently,” John Kempf, founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, described the decision-making traits of successful farmers he’s met through his work with growers around the world.

Kempf has traveled the world speaking and helping growers with their craft. In his conversations, he said, he likes to start with a question.

“I ask them, ‘Why do you farm?’” Kempf explained. “‘Why do you want to farm?’ Farming is not the easiest job in the world. It’s definitely not the best paid.”

He added that what did emerge from the discussion was what attracted people to farming and growing crops was the desire to have a connection to life and living processes.

“Farmers love watching seeds germinating in the spring. They enjoy watching trees blossoming and blooming. They enjoy watching birds migrate back to the South,” Kempf said. “They enjoy watching the newborn of an animal, a calf, colt or lamb. It was these small, subtle things, but it is a desire to have a connection, to be a steward and nourish this process. It was something they wanted to be a part of.”

Kempf’s comments also prove that agriculture is bigger than all of us, and we’re all stewards of certain aspects of it. It was the continuing theme during the World Ag Expo with seminars dedicated to the human resource aspect of growing: pride, professionalism and improving performance. This industry is big, but it only moves as fast as us small humans.

Cheers!