Palm Springs/Coachella Valley 2016

 

In November we went to Palm Springs/ Coachella Valley as part of the ASFMRA conference (American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers). My husband had been working to receive his farm manager accreditation for the past 4 years and this was the conference where he would receive his accreditation. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa. It was beautiful, clean, well maintained and I highly recommend it. For more information click here: Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa

 

View outside of our hotel room

I had been to Malibu and the LA area of California before, but have never been to this desert area before I was impressed! The area was beautiful. Water is such a premium here though that understanding how anything could grow was difficult until I had the time to ask o the farm tour we attended. The lush greens of the gold courses, yards and etc was interesting because of the lack of water.. but when I learned more about the canal system things made more sense.

 

Water canal system in the valley

We arrived and spent the first night at the conference. We had a poolside reception and the weather could not have been more perfect. Calm. No humidity, dry, perfect temp. I can see why this is a chosen retirement area for seniors. Weather was gorgeous. Dinner was at Arnold Palmer’s restaurant where we had prime rib and chocolate flourless cake. Soooo gooood.

 

The first day after we arrived we attended a Dupont Farm tour of local agriculture. It was so interesting to see. The area is truly desert. No water… rain is rare so they have a canal system where farmer “order “ their water to be delivered similar to how we “order” our fertilizers to be applied. Neighbors know water is a precious resource so they rotate so they do not over use the supply and take turn with delivery on a routine basis.

On the bus waiting to start our tour

Touring a pepper farm on our DuPont ag tour

New crop they are developing.. Kale-etts

The primary crops we saw on our tour were green peppers, celery, grapes, kale and a new hybrid called “Kale-etts”, and lettuce. The most prized crop they have is the date, and date trees are everywhere. We attended a tour of Shields “Date Garden” and had a date shake. Delicious, but not a favorite of mine. They also use dates to make a derivative that is a date “sugar” used in cooking

The garden you walk through behind the restaurant at Shields

While there we had the chance to tour 2 businesses. Head start Nursery, and Primetime Peppers. Both were equally interesting.

Celery plants ready to be planted

Prime time has a newer open-air type manufacturing facility where peppers are picked and packaged. The huge lines of peppers going across conveyer belts were interesting to see. The facility was extremely clean and well kept and the peppers were inspected to be sent to Wal-Mart as one of their primary buyers.

 

Head start Nursery was interesting to see because the have countless seedling sin trays to be sent out to businesses like Prime Time to be transplanted and grown. We saw seedling “tape” being developed to be planted and the humidity controlled greenhouses where peppers being to grow before being shipped out for planting.

 

Lunch was at Shields where we had the date shake and we ended the evening exhausted back at the hotel. Was a fun day.

 

The second day my husband had meetings so I went with the spouses on a tour of home in the area. Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Leonardo Dicapprio, Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope all had homes here. We were able to drive by all the houses and see where all these famous people used to reside. So interesting. Of particular interest was Bob Hope’s entertainment house and Elvis Presley’s honeymoon hide-away.

 

We had lunch at Melvyn’s world famous restaurant where all the stars dines, had a world famous “Mel-tini” for lunch… delicious… and spent the remainder of the day shopping before the reception that night.

My Mel-tini and I had the Monte Cristo…

Melvyn’s famous restaurant, unfortunately Melvyn passed away just prior to our trip

We came home wishing we had time to ride the cable car which is a must see in Palm Springs, but time did not allow. We had the brief few days there but definitely got a taste of the desert lifestyle. It was beautiful. I would highly recommend a stop here if ever in the area. I jut wish we had more time to see it all!

Newly accredited farm managers

What is a farm manager?

I have been asked literally a million times what my husband does. “He is a farm manager? “What is that?”, “Does he farm?”, “What does he manage?” I have a lot of confused looks and questions whenever I mention his career. So let me clear some of the myths behind farm management and what a farm manager actually does.

  1. He does not drive around in a pickup and look at fields. …well… he kind of does… but not really. He does own a pick up and he does look at fields, but he gets out of the pick up and ventures into fields. Just like a farmer, he has to check moisture, look for signs of pests and weeds, and check the progress of the crops he is responsible for.
  2. He does not work with the farmer. I think this is the biggest misconception. Yes, his job is to work for the land owner, (who is not always the farmer) but he works with the land owner and the farmer toward the best outcome.
  3.  Farm managers aren’t as busy as farmers. Actually this is completely false. My husband is gone just as much as the farmers he works with. When you are responsible for the production and outcome on over 50 fields, you are gone. ALOT. He is in the combine when they are combining, in the tractor when they are planting and out visiting fields when chemicals are being put on (or not). His family knows what it is like to have him hit a “busy season” and we experience his absence too.
  4. Not all agents that sell farm ground are farm managers. Yes. To manage ground you have to have a real estate license, even if you do not sell. (In other words you cannot manage real estate without a real estate license). This also enables you to list and sell farm ground. Some also carry insurance licenses to they can sell crop insurance. Depends on who you work for.
  5. Farm managers don’t understand how farming works. My husband grew up on a cattle feedlot, worked on a farm all the way through college, has managed more than one farm chemical outlet, has a degree in agronomy, and has earned sales awards in both chemical and land. He also was awarded an environmental service award and was in charge of a winter nursery in Puerto Rico… so he does know agriculture.

The best way for me to describe what my husband does is to set up a scenario- one he has seen time and time again… Imagine being an adult child of a farmer who has farmed his whole life. You grew up, moved away to the coast and upon the death of your dad you inherit 240 acres of farm ground back in the midwest. You have no idea how to farm, what land can make in rent, what an input is, what kinds of seed to plant and you have no idea who is currently farming this land and how does that rent work? You are established in your career, know nothing abut farming and have no desire to move back. How do you take care of this investment you were given?

This is where the farm manager comes in. He is hired with the responsibility of managing the land, rent, and depending on the contract, any leases, sales and upkeep of the ground. He meets with the seed and chemical companies, hires the sprayers, chooses the seed in some cases, hires the people who will put up new terraces, work on drainage issues, complete tiling etc. He works with managed ground, custom ground, and owners. The land owner who knows nothing about this or cannot or does not want to manage this all him/herself can rely on the farm manager to get the best return on his/her investment.

For many, it really is a blessing to have access to a farm manager if you have no idea what to do next once you inherit ground. He is utilized by adult children who have land, widows of farmers, and in some cases he is works for investment companies.

Bottom line is that farm managers are a very necessary part of the agricultural landscape. They are men and women who work hard to protect the farm ground that is such an important part of the agricultural foundation of our country. If you ever wonder just exactly what they do, just ask! They are proud of the profession they love.

Picture of my husbands dad and siblings by his tractor late 70’s