Webster's Dictionary describes a farmer as simply a person who farms. One who operates a farm or cultivates land. It describes a farm as a tract of land usually with a house and a barn on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood; often with land or water devoted to the raising of animals, fish, etc. Sadly, in many parts of the world farmers and farming are becoming a dying profession, as the work is hard, the hours long and the pay often low. To be a farmer you must be dedicated and not be afraid of hard work and long hours. A farmer must be committed to his livestock, plants, fish, etc. Day after day the farmer must show up. Farmers cannot take off or call in sick as every day animals must be fed, plants and vegetables must be watered, and the land has to be worked. Farming is one of those professions that gets the least amount of recognition, but is critically important to our livelihood as the farmers are the ones the take care of, grow and produce our food and dairy products.
Twice a year we each have an opportunity to support our farmers at the St. Thomas/St. John/Water Island (November) and St. Croix (February) Agricultural Fairs. It is a time of community and of fun. It gives the farmers a change to showcase their hard work by displaying their best animals, plants, fruits and vegetables, and it gives our community a chance to gather together to share, learn, eat and have fun.
While rarely recognized for their contributions to our territory, whether a fish, livestock, fruit, vegetable or plant farmer, there is much that can be learned by both parent and child from attending an Agricultural Fair. Children can merge textbook lessons with real life experiences with livestock or parents can learn home gardening techniques or fruit tree and plant care. Although the fair on St. Thomas will be much smaller in size than the St. Croix Agricultural Fair; this fair will give farmers from St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island an opportunity to show the people what can be produced here in the territory, like various fruit trees, ornamentals, plants, herbs and spices. The fair also gives us all a chance to enjoy cultural and local foods unique to the territory that are only available at the Agricultural Fair and on Food Fair day at Carnival.
Many of us talk about the need to support locals; well a great way to do this is by attending the Agricultural Fair on St. Thomas being hosted by the UVI extension program along with the Department of Agriculture. On November 23 and 24 we all have a chance to put action behind our words. Parents can use this opportunity to not only demonstrate their support of local farmers by attending the fair, but also as an occasion for family time and for exposing their children in a wonderful learning experience.
Vincent T. Lombardi states "the quality of a person's life is in direct portion to their commitment to excellence regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." I invite you to come out and support our local farmers' commitment to excellence by joining me at this year's Agricultural Fair here on St. Thomas the weekend of November 23 and 24.
Lawrence T. Boschulte
St. Thomas, V.I.
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