“First in war, Ù„Ø£ÙˆÙ„ Ù…Ø±Ø© ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„Ø³Ù„Ø§Ù…, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
How about “first in farming”?
I’d love to add that label to George Washington, if only I could revise and extend the famous quote from the Ù…Ø¯ÙŠØ delivered in 1799 by “Light-Horse” Harry Lee.
ÙˆÙ†ØÙ† Ù†Ù‚ØªØ±Ø¨ Ù…Ù† ÙŠÙˆÙ… Ø§Ù„Ø±Ø¤Ø³Ø§Ø¡ ÙŠÙˆÙ… Ø§Ù„Ø§Ø«Ù†ÙŠÙ†, ÙØ¨Ø±Ø§ÙŠØ±. 18—and Washington’s own Ø¹ÙŠØ¯ Ø§Ù„Ù…ÙŠÙ„Ø§Ø¯ on Feb. 22—my thoughts turn to this Founding Father. He was possibly the greatest American in our history. He helped the United States win its independence from Great Britain and then he served two terms as our first president.
Biographers have hailed him as everything from a modern “Cincinnatus” (Ø¬Ø§Ø±ÙŠ ÙˆÙŠÙ„Ø²) to “His Excellency” (Ø¬ÙˆØ²ÙŠÙ Ø¬. Ø¥Ù„ÙŠØ³) to “The Indispensible Man” (Ø¬ÙŠÙ…Ø³ ØªÙˆÙ…Ø§Ø³ ÙÙ„ÙŠÙƒØ³Ù†Ø±).
I like to think of him as our Ù…Ø¤Ø³Ø³ Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø²Ø§Ø±Ø¹.
That’s partly because I’m a farmer, Ø¬Ø¯Ø§. George Washington even grew alfalfa, which is what I raise here in the southeastern corner of—wait for it—the state of Washington.
Ù…Ø±Ø© Ø£Ø®Ø±Ù‰ ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„Ù‚Ø±Ù† Ø§Ù„Ø«Ø§Ù…Ù† Ø¹Ø´Ø±, agriculture was America’s top economic activity. Yet Washington stood out as a pioneer.
At first he grew tobacco, as did many of his fellow Virginians. ÙˆÙ…Ø¹ Ø°Ù„Ùƒ ÙÙ‚Ø¯ Ø±Ø£Ù‰ Ø£ÙŠØ¶Ù‹Ø§ ÙƒÙŠÙ Ø£Ù† Ø§Ù„ØªØ¨Øº ÙŠØ³ØªÙ†ÙØ¯ Ø§Ù„ØªØ±Ø¨Ø©. Rather than letting fields deteriorate and moving on to other pastures—a standard practice among tobacco growers back then—Washington became an early adopter of compost. He also began to use alfalfa in his seven-crop rotation plan.
ÙƒØ§Ù† Ù‡Ø°Ø§ Ø§Ø¨ØªÙƒØ§Ø±Ù‹Ø§, and it worked. Alfalfa injected nitrogen into the soil, Ø¥Ø¨Ù‚Ø§Ø¦Ù‡Ø§ ØµØÙŠØ© Ù„Ù„Ù…ÙˆØ§Ø³Ù… Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø³ØªÙ‚Ø¨Ù„ÙŠØ©. Washington couldn’t have explained the chemistry, but he saw the result. ÙƒØ§Ù† Ù…Ø²Ø§Ø±Ø¹Ù‹Ø§ Ù…Ø³ØªØ¯Ø§Ù…Ù‹Ø§ Ù‚Ø¨Ù„ Ø£Ù† ØªÙƒÙˆÙ† Ø§Ù„Ø²Ø±Ø§Ø¹Ø© Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø³ØªØ¯Ø§Ù…Ø© Ø±Ø§Ø¦Ø¹Ø©.
ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„Ù†Ù‡Ø§ÙŠØ©, Ø§Ù†ØªÙ‚Ù„Øª ÙˆØ§Ø´Ù†Ø·Ù† Ø¥Ù„Ù‰ Ø§Ù„ØØ¨ÙˆØ¨. Ù‡Ù†Ø§, Ø¬Ø¯Ø§, ØªØ¨Ù†Ù‰ ØªÙ‚Ù†ÙŠØ§Øª Ø¬Ø¯ÙŠØ¯Ø©. Tourists at Mount Vernon today can visit a reconstruction of his 16-sided ÙŠØ¯ÙˆØ³ Ø§Ù„ØØ¸ÙŠØ±Ø©, a labor-saving machine that allowed him to move away from threshing wheat by hand. ÙÙŠ ØÙŠÙ† Ø£Ù†, horses walked in circles and stomped the wheat, Ø§Ù„ØªÙŠ Ø³Ù‚Ø·Øª Ø¨Ø°ÙˆØ±Ù‡Ø§ Ø¨Ø¹Ø¯ Ø°Ù„Ùƒ Ù…Ù† Ø®Ù„Ø§Ù„ Ø´Ø±Ø§Ø¦Ø Ù„ÙˆØ Ø§Ù„Ø£Ø±Ø¶ÙŠØ© ÙˆÙÙŠ Ù…Ø®Ø²Ù† Ø§Ù„ØØ¨ÙˆØ¨.
Ø§ØØªÙØ¸Øª ÙˆØ§Ø´Ù†Ø·Ù† Ø£ÙŠØ¶Ù‹Ø§ Ø¨Ø³Ø¬Ù„Ø§Øª ÙˆØ§Ø³Ø¹Ø© Ø§Ù„Ù†Ø·Ø§Ù‚. ÙŠØ¹Ø±Ù Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø¤Ø±Ø®ÙˆÙ† Ø§Ù„ÙƒØ«ÙŠØ± Ø¹Ù…Ø§ Ù†Ø´Ø£ ÙˆØ£ÙŠÙ† Ù†Ù…Ø§Ù‡, but Washington wasn’t thinking about posterity. Ø¯Ø±Ø³ Ù†ØªØ§Ø¦Ø¬Ù‡, Ù†ØØ§ÙˆÙ„ Ø¯Ø§Ø¦Ù…Ù‹Ø§ Ù…Ø¹Ø±ÙØ© Ø£ÙƒØ¨Ø± Ù‚Ø¯Ø± Ù…Ù…ÙƒÙ† Ø¹Ù† Ø£Ø¯Ø§Ø¡ Ø§Ù„Ù…ØØ§ØµÙŠÙ„ ÙˆØ§Ù„ØÙ‚ÙˆÙ„. Ù‚Ø§Ù… Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø²Ø§Ø±Ø¹ÙˆÙ† Ø§Ù„Ø¢Ø®Ø±ÙˆÙ† Ø¨Ù‡Ø°Ø§ Ø£ÙŠØ¶Ù‹Ø§, but Washington was among the earliest to expose himself to the rigor of analysis. ÙƒØ§Ù† ÙŠØØ§ÙˆÙ„ Ø¯Ø§Ø¦Ù…Ø§ Ø£Ù† ÙŠØªØØ³Ù†.
These same records also tell us about his exploitation of other people. At least Washington came to understand the injustice of Ø¹Ø¨ÙˆØ¯ÙŠØ©. His will granted freedom to the African Americans he held in bondage—a moral advance that too few of his countrymen followed.
I’ve visited Mount Vernon several times over the years. Ø°Ø§Øª Ù…Ø±Ø©, ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„ØµØ¨Ø§Ø Ø§Ù„Ø¨Ø§ÙƒØ±, I had a chance to walk inside his Ù‚Ø¨Ø±, ÙˆØ§Ù„ØªÙŠ ØªÙƒÙˆÙ† Ø¹Ø§Ø¯Ø© Ø®Ù„Ù Ø¨ÙˆØ§Ø¨Ø© Ù…ØºÙ„Ù‚Ø©. I set my hand on his marble sarcophagus and stood there in silent awe.
I wish I could have told him how much he meant to me as a fellow farmer. I’d also want him to know how far we’ve come with mechanization, Ø¹Ù„Ù… Ø§Ù„ÙˆØ±Ø§Ø«Ø©, and global trade. The changes would amaze him. He might marvel most of all at our ability to sell what we grow to customers around the world. Ø§Ù„ Ø§Ø¹Ù„Ø§Ù† Ø§Ù„Ø§Ø³ØªÙ‚Ù„Ø§Ù„, Ø¨Ø¹Ø¯ ÙƒÙ„ Ø°Ù„Ùƒ, complains about the tyranny of “cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.”
Ø¥Ø°Ø§ ÙƒØ§Ù† Ù…ÙˆØ¬ÙˆØ¯Ù‹Ø§ Ø§Ù„Ø¢Ù†, he’d probably still farm. I can almost picture him driving a combine harvester across a field of genetically modified corn or soybeans. He’d track his progress by GPS, Ø¬Ù…Ø¹ Ø§Ù„Ø¨ÙŠØ§Ù†Ø§Øª Ù„Ù…Ø±Ø§Ø¬Ø¹ØªÙ‡Ø§ Ù„Ø§ØÙ‚Ù‹Ø§. He’d listen to the radio, hopeful about commodity prices and worried about our trade war with China. Instead of wearing a tri-corner hat, he’d sport a John Deere baseball cap.
ÙˆØ±Ø§Ø¡ ÙƒÙ„ Ø°Ù„Ùƒ, our Founding Farmer would recognize a few things that farmers share, Ù„Ø§ ÙŠÙ‡Ù… Ù…ØªÙ‰ ÙŠØ¹ÙŠØ´ÙˆÙ†: Ø§Ù„Ø±ØºØ¨Ø© ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„ØªÙƒÙ†ÙˆÙ„ÙˆØ¬ÙŠØ§ Ø§Ù„Ø¬Ø¯ÙŠØ¯Ø©, Ø§Ù„ØØ§Ø¬Ø© Ø¥Ù„Ù‰ Ø£Ø³ÙˆØ§Ù‚ Ø«Ø§Ø¨ØªØ©, ÙˆØ§Ù„Ø§Ù„ØªØ²Ø§Ù… Ø¨Ø§Ù„ØªÙ‚Ø¯Ù… Ø§Ù„Ø²Ø±Ø§Ø¹ÙŠ.
Ø¸Ù‡Ø± Ù‡Ø°Ø§ Ø§Ù„Ø¹Ù…ÙˆØ¯ Ù„Ø£ÙˆÙ„ Ù…Ø±Ø© ÙÙŠ ÙØ¨Ø±Ø§ÙŠØ± 13 ÙÙŠ Agri-Pulse.
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