What do agriculturalists and nerds have in common?


I’m a nerd.

In fact, I’m a nerd of many things. I “nerd out” about tech, graphics, films, television, music, books, and more. I squealed in excitement when The Hobbit began the night I went to see it with my friend Brandi. (Now, when I get excited she asks if I’m going to do the “Hobbit Squeal” and it makes me laugh.) I’ve seen more movies than I can remember on opening night, many of which involved standing in line for hours. Harry Potters, Iron-Mans, Batmans, Lord of the Rings. I’ve gone to book launch parties. I’m dressed like more female super heroes for Halloween than I can ever keep track of.

Know what else I’m a nerd of?

If you guessed agriculture, you guessed right.

I have this friend, named Mark Vierthaler. Much like me, he’s a nerd of agriculture, but he also fosters a profound love of the nerdier side of life. In fact, I’d say he’s the reason I caught the Doctor Who bug. (If you are a fan of sci-fi and have not watched at least the “new” Doctor Who, shame on you.) He’s kind of been my emotional guide/spirit animal on my journey with the Doctor. This show is VERY emotionally taxing, and I can always count on Mark to offer a few words of support or mutual excitement over the twists and turns of the plot.

Doctor Who 11 Doctors

This graphic gives me goosebumps, but I’m sure only a percentage of anyone who reads this will understand why. Doctor Who, you slay me.

Well, in one of our incredibly random conversations, we somehow drew a parallel between the “nerd society” and the agriculture industry.

You see, in the worlds of fantasy and sci-fi, you have to bend the human mind. You have to think far and beyond what we know is possible, and push the limits to see what could be. And there is always, always a deep passion for that growth and expansion. People aren’t involved in the worlds of geekdom to make a living — they do it because they love it. People who end up illustrating comic books don’t go through art school with the intention of becoming rich. They do it because they grew up reading about these worlds and characters that swept them away and sparked their imagination.

So it goes in agriculture. Ideas turn into research, research turns into innovation, and we move forward into a brighter tomorrow. The innovations we’ve made, and are continuing to make, to advance our ability to produce food and other raw goods, is driven by curiosity, wonder, and passion. And honestly, this isn’t just happening at the research level of agriculture. This nerdiness, this stretching the imagination and the mind, happens each and every day on a farm. Every time a farmer or rancher has to use a creative approach to problem-solving, they’re doing it. And they definitely don’t do it for the money. They do it for the love.

If you’ve ever stood on a grain bin just before dusk, as the sun starts to set and the mist is settling over the surrounding fields, or watched a newborn calf take its first steps, there’s a sense of wonder there. It’s beautiful. I get that feeling for other things now and then — it’s that, “the world is a REALLY cool place” feeling. And it rises up in my chest when I see something naturally beautiful, or I witness something that shows how truly amazing humans are.

One example: when I stop and think about Middle Earth, and how vastly creative J.R.R. Tolkien was in crafting it, my heart flutters. Humans are amazing, and the human mind is full of wondrous capabilities.

This happens in other aspects of our world, of course. There’s no doubt about that. But, it was a good conversation about the parallel between nerds and agriculture, good enough that I had to blog about it.

I mean, I could go on about this for thousands of works. Instead, I’ll offer a few final words, in summary: if you want to see the true capabilities for challenging the limits of human capabilities, creativity, dedication, and passion, surround yourselves with geeks, nerds and farmers.

Remember that, next time you pick up a “nerdy” book, or watch a “nerdy” TV show…or eat anything.

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