Welcome to southwestern Idaho! Remember back before there were cell phones? Ok, some of you don’t remember those days, but growing up in the ’90s the big bricks were few and far between until about 2000 in this area. It’s July and it’s HOT, which is pretty typical for the Snake River Valley after the 4th of July. I’m in my work jeans and am about 12 years old. Grandpa dropped me at a field to do some pole numbering so if our scouts find any problems or pests we can note the pole number and easily find the location of said problem. For those of you reading this, I’m assuming you know what a hop trellis looks like, but just in case here’s a photo.
Image: Hop Trellis
The young 12-year-old me is an over-achiever, go-getter and I want to do the best, fastest job for Grandpa to show I have some worth on the farm. I finish the line, which took about 1.5 hours or 3 depending on who you asked. To most 12-year-old kids, time takes FOREVER to pass, whereas there seems to never be enough for adults. I finish my task and am so pleased because I think I did such a great job and in a very timely fashion. Now I’m at the end of the field, about 2 miles from the main farm headquarters, or homeplace as it’s affectionately known. I wait for Grandpa to come to pick me up and did I mention it’s hot? I wander into the field, skip some rocks in the ditch and proceed to get incredibly bored. Given I’m a go-getter, I decide Grandpa must be very busy, so I walk back to the farm, about 2.5 miles away (notice it’s getting further away as the story progresses?).
I walk quickly back to the homeplace because by this time I need a snack. I walk into the shop. There’s Grandpa reading the paper! I ask if he had forgotten about me? And he looks up and says, “Of course not, but you finished the job much more quickly than I planned, great work! Let’s go check it out?” Of course, I’m thrilled by his praise. We DRIVE back to the field and thankfully his pickup had cold water and AC! He pulls into the bottom of the field (mind you, I’d been marking posts at the top of the field) and he says, well you haven’t done any of these? And is quite perplexed. I hang my head and say, “Well, you didn’t say to do the bottom too…” He chuckles, of course expecting this response, and tells me, “Diane, always think ahead, use your smarts. And remember this lesson, when you think for yourself, you hold the power for change and success.”
Fast forward about 25 years and we arrive at today, the 2022 crop year. Gooding Farms has gone through quite the journey both under my father’s oversight, stewardship, and guidance and now my leadership since 2013. Both of my predecessors, Dad and Grandpa, always supported my 2 sisters and me in all our endeavors from ballet (which I hated btw) to soccer, skiing, golf, softball, piano, traveling, studies, etc. We had a great opportunity and support, albeit not always perfect or easy, but we made it work. Many people ask me, “did you always want to run the farm?” And my answer is always a resounding, “NO!, I couldn’t move away quick enough!” But as with so many things in life, it drew me back. I missed the quiet of winter, the buzz of spring bees, the whir of the hop picker, the jet sound of our dryer. Growing up on a hop farm, you take these things for granted, but after sitting in a basement in San Francisco for a few years doing web production you start to remember the sun and breeze and the smell of dew on a crisp morning.
(Image From Left to Right: Diane Gooding, Michelle Gooding, Mike Gooding, Andrea Gooding)
We are fortunate, as women, sisters, friends, to have the opportunity to thrive in not just agriculture but in hops, which is such a special crop to many around the world. Dad never pushed us in the direction of farming because farming, in general, and hops specifically is incredibly stressful and challenging. Mother Nature can be wicked and unforgiving some years; throw in banking, inflation, quarantines, etc. and wow, this industry is more challenging by the day! However, we are honored to follow in the footsteps of our family and colleagues in hops. More women are getting into ag whether that be in cattle, macro crops, CSA’s, farmer’s markets, you name it! We have so many blessings and opportunities for positive change that previous generations never dreamed of!
To all you ladies in ag, beer, media, malting, sales, etc. cheers! Let’s continue to blaze the path for others to follow and continue to press for positive change both socially and environmentally. Think for yourselves and embody the change and success that’s possible, Grandpa said it would work…and by golly, he’s right!
Author: Diane Gooding, VP of Gooding Farms, Inc.