The South has long been known for its love of the finer things in life, like sweet tea, mama’s cooking, the great outdoors… and of course, football. As the weather begins to cool off and everyone holds their breath waiting for the first signs of fall to blow in, football seems to be the topic on everyone’s mind and discussions about who is expected to win the weekend game is the topic on everyone’s tongue as well. Whether it’s Friday night football in a high school stadium or Saturday tailgates on the lawn, us Southerners are known for our love of football and the boundless energy, enthusiasm, and passion we pour into watching the sport and cheering for it.
As the season approaches, teams are kicking it into high gear with harder practices, friends are planning tailgate parties, and coaches are making last minute changes to the play books in the hopes of getting that winning season. Those who don’t live in the South might view this deep seeded love as odd. It can be hard to explain the pride we have for our teams (particularly SEC football), the chills you get during the singing of the National Anthem, or the uncontrollable yelling as the clock ticks through the last couple of minutes in the game.
In so many ways, the love of farming – and the produce industry that comes along with it – is the same. There’s endless preparation and planning. There’s hiring the right team members and ensuring they are placed in a position where they can prosper and contribute to the team’s success. There’s prepping the soil and training the workers. There’s money galore that must be poured in up front…before you ever know if the season will be successful. And just like with our beloved football, Southern Valley recruits, trains, practices, and makes “plays” all year long in the hopes of a successful season. Even with opposition like weather, disease, and insect pressure, if you ask most of us why we do what we do, the answer is “because we love it”.
And just how not everyone gets football, not everyone gets the love of the industry. Not everyone understands the long days of picking produce and selling it and the even longer nights of packing and shipping. However, regardless of how much you love football, even the coldest soul gets a chill as the national anthem is sung over the loudspeaker and the kick off commences. In the same way, watching soil be turned, watching product be harvested, watching trucks be loaded and pull out – these things are a reminder of why we go out and “play the game” day after day after day. It’s because we love it and we want to be a successful team in supplying product to our customers and consumers.
As we kick off another football and soon to be fall season, may the best team win…both in football and in farming.