A Bit Further Down the Yellow Brick Road

By Gary Matteson
April 28, 2015

We all like to know the rest of a good story, especially one with a happy ending. †It turns out that my New Hampshire farmer friend Chuck Souther knew more about my recent blog post regarding the Wizard of Oz, Cabot Cheese, and Gordon and Marion Jones. †Chuck has a similar story regarding Gordon and Marionís ability to communicate the value of agriculture through their humble sincerity. †Hereís how Chuck tells it:

Many years ago on the Merrimack County Farm Bureau tour for State Legislators, our last stop was at the Jones farm. Gordon and Marion gave us all a very nice tour of their pasture-based dairy operation. After the tour and some discussion about the farm, the land, and their family, with the sun setting behind the barn, we all said our goodbyes and I herded the legislators onto the bus. †In what was a very typical and normal occurrence for them, Gordon and Marion turned, took each other's hand, and walked into the barn.

The effect of that scene was enormous. †It was quiet for a few moments on the bus as we started our trip back to the city. †Then like someone opened the gate, every legislator started talking about what they had just seen, and asked us tour-guide-farmers on the bus what they needed to do so that farmers like Gordon and Marion could keep doing what they were doing. It was a powerful moment for all.

The photo in the Farm Bureau magazine article reporting that Legislative Tour was of the Ag Committee Chairwoman shoveling silage to the cows, but it was the simple gesture of caring commitment by Gordon and Marion that had the greatest impact.

Iíve been onóand have givenólots of farm tours over the years. †Farmers just show and tell about what they do; people on tours see and feel the romance of evident obligation to farm, family, and faith. †No farm is a storybook movie set with cowardly lions, brainless scarecrows, and heartless tin men, but the real world of courage, cleverness, and commitment are there for all to see.

The accompanying photo isnít of Gordon and Marion. †Although they often may be seen holding hands when there isnít work to be done, I havenít got a picture of them doing so. †Go ahead and read more of their story and see some photos of a pretty sweet hug right here. †Itís the same photo as on the Cabot Cheese package.

About Gary Matteson
Gary Matteson knows agriculture first hand. Until recently he was a small farmer operating a greenhouse business in Epsom, New Hampshire. Matteson now works at the Farm Credit Council, the trade association for the nationwide Farm Credit System. He is an advocate for young, beginning, small, and minority farmer outreach programs. Matteson is responsible for spreading best practices for beginning farmer lending and training among Farm Credit Associations, generating new program ideas to benefit them. In addition to working directly with farm groups, Matteson is active in policy related to new entrants to farming. He now serves on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.