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Living the Dream

“He was a very inferior farmer when he first began, but a prolonged and unflinching assault upon his agricultural difficulties has had its effect at last and he is now fast rising from affluence to poverty,” Mark Twain once remarked of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. And it’s in the grand tradition of American satirical prose that The Snack Magazine presents Vic Smith’s thoughts on the leafy green growing dream…

Hi, my name is Vic, and I am a recovering gambler (not really).

In order to deal with my problem, I decided to become a leafy greens grower. This was necessary in order to improve my health and well being. My lifestyle was killing me prior to this major change, as the smoke-filled rooms of casinos and cooler offices were becoming overwhelming.

It seemed a nice change to be out in all of nature’s elements, and growing nutritious food seemed to be the answer. The opportunity to enjoy droughts, floods, minor plagues of insects, and bird attacks would, I thought, be a welcome respite to my prior existence.

Now, before I continue, I need to acknowledge that I don’t pretend to be an absolute expert on growing leafy green vegetables. However, in my defense, I will cite an old saying, “Good judgement comes from experience, which comes from bad judgement.” I have a lot of experience.

“Our ability to grow and harvest healthy food lies in the collective wisdom of the people governing these policies. The fruits of our labor (pun intended) will be recognized only as we are able to continue on this journey.”

This article is intended to bring forth all the positive aspects of “living the dream” as a leafy greens grower. As mentioned above, the natural lifestyle is important as is the enjoyment of participating in endless debates on public policy regarding immigration and our great nation. Our ability to grow and harvest healthy food lies in the collective wisdom of the people governing these policies. The fruits of our labor (pun intended) will be recognized only as we are able to continue on this journey.

At this point, I have to go to a quote attributed to Winston Churchill: “You can always count on the American people to do the right thing, but only as a last resort.” I think we are getting very close to that in regards to a rational guest worker program.

Yet I digress; the opportunities to expand my horizons are limitless. I have become an expert on microbiology (self-taught). Pathogens are an interesting phenomenon in our biodiversity of production cycles. They feel they’ve the right to co-exist with our crops, and we believe they should go exist anywhere else but near us. Therefore, we are encouraging them to go back to the public restrooms where they belong.

Filling my time to avoid my problem—remember, gambling—I have developed new hobbies, such as becoming an inventor of things. I like to play with tiny machine replicas of lettuce harvest machines and automatic weeding devices. Ah, if only I could make a real one!

While working in this field of agriculture (another pun intended), I have come to realize that money is not important. The self-satisfaction to toil and sweat to create some of nature’s finest delicacies is more than enough compensation for me. I really want the people selling my products—shippers, processors, retailers, foodservice operators—to realize the maximum value from my efforts.

The most important thing, as I have become more and more involved as a leafy greens grower, is that I have lost my desire to gamble. Now, I only have an addiction to the produce industry and invest wisely in crops that cost $5,000 to $10,000 per acre, which may or may not return anything.

It’s a good life—living the dream.

Vic Smith is the President and CEO of JVSmith Companies, a diverse group operations with farming, cooling and distribution facilities, and shipping capacities in Yuma, Arizona, Colorado, Salinas Valley, California, and Baja, Mexico.

Skyview Cooling was its first operation, formed in 1970, and began as a cooling company in Colorado and New Mexico. Today, JVSmith Companies farm a number of commodities including conventional romaine, iceberg lettuce, spinach, potatoes, mixed leaf and organic spring mix, carrots, celery, romaine, and green onions.

Since 1991, Vic has overseen all the companies’ farming, packing, and cooling operations—including 30,000 acres of vegetable production annually. Vic has served on the boards the of United Fresh Produce Association, the Produce Marketing Association, and Western Growers—where he currently serves as the 2019 Executive Secretary.