Carrying on the Family Farming Tradition
Driscoll's had the opportunity to catch up with Cesar Fuentes while he was in the raspberry field inspecting the fruit. As part of our conversation we learned more about what it was like to be a younger generation farmer.
How long have you been growing raspberries?
I have been growing raspberries for two years but I grew up in a farming family.
What is a typical day like for you as a raspberry farmer?
I'm a ranch manager which means that I'm responsible for the day-to- day operations of the farm. The first year on the job I felt like I didn't know anything. I relied on my workers, another ranch manager and my father, who is also a berry grower, to help teach me the business. It was very stressful but I learned the most important thing is how to grow good quality raspberries.
What were the steps or tasks you had to do before becoming a Ranch Manager?
My dad told me to at least get my AA at a Community College and take all the agriculture, chemistry and biology classes available. He also recommended that I take courses on how to manage and work with people which is really important to being a ranch manager.
Did you always know you wanted to be a farmer like your dad?
Yes. He gave me the task to go pick strawberries every Saturday morning. It was hard work but I enjoyed being outdoors and seeing the results from our care and attention to the plants. Not to mention there was always coffee and donuts on those mornings. After I finished picking my dad would take me out to the field and show me how to drive the tractors, which was my favorite part. Memories like those with my father made me realize I wanted to be a farmer too.
Is your dad still giving you pointers about growing Raspberries?
He mostly gives me pointers on the accounting side. As far as growing, he lets me work my own magic. That's the best way to learn.
Describe your family.
My family is very caring and loving. My wife is studying to be a RN so she's pretty busy with school and work. Then there is my mother and father in addition to my two sisters and older brother. My father is still very involved in the business. My older sister handles all of the administrative work like accounting and payroll for the ranch and my brother and I are in charge of carrying out farming duties. My brother oversees the strawberry operation and I manage our raspberry and blackberry ranches.
What is Thanksgiving like in your family? Do you have any special traditions?
My mom's side of the family all gets together for Thanksgiving which means between 50-60 people. We're a large group! We love getting together and enjoying homemade Mexican cuisine like tamales. My wife also makes amazing raspberry shortcake. After all the eating we always get everyone together for a soccer game.
As we enter the holiday season what are you most grateful for?
I'm grateful for my wife, family, God and most of all raspberries and blackberries (he laughs).