Justen Ollendick, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern: This young aspiring Agriculturalist from Yuma County reflects on what it really means to be “raised on the farm.” With strong family roots in Dome Valley, and an operation that has grown across the county, farming sure does run through this family’s bloodline!
An interview with Megan Ware, daughter of William and Heather Ware – Ware Farms.
Part of an ongoing series about Arizona Farming and Ranching families.
Talk about your farm: Ware Farms is located in Dome Valley, Arizona; this is where our roots lie. We are also located in Gila Valley, Arizona and Yuma, Arizona. Ware Farms is the 5th generation farm started by my father, William Ware. His mother Patricia Ware owns a farm named Patricia Ware Farms and this is where my father’s passion began for farming. Our main crops are cotton, produce, Bermuda grass, and some wheat. We have recently gone into the olive tree business to see how Dome Valley, Arizona takes to the trees.
What changes have you seen in your lifetime as it relates to farming? In my 19 years I have noticed the changes in equipment to be one of the largest changes in agriculture. The machines and equipment have become more computerized and less labor invasive, which can be both helpful and pain to farmers and mechanics. I have also noticed that the attention on water and irrigation methods has become a great discussion amongst many.
TRUE SUSTAINABILITY: Parents William and Heather with daughter, Megan and son, Jacob. Megan and Jacob become the 5th-generation to farm in Yuma County.
Why did you choose to go into agriculture? I chose to go into the agriculture field not only because I am a 5th generation farm family, but also because I have a passion for behind-the-scene work in agriculture. I do not have a strong bond with the manual labor of farming but I do have a love for the game. I celebrate that there is a critical need for agriculture and farming worldwide, that there is never going to be a day that farms will not be needed in society, and that there are so many different fields in agriculture that you can be involved in. Farming isn’t just going out and planting the field and praying that it comes up strong, farming is everywhere, especially in Yuma, Arizona; and with that I know I will also have a new experience that is waiting for me in agriculture. That is why I chose to study and begin a career in agriculture.
What generation of farming are you? I am the 5th generation of farmers in my family. I have personally experienced the ups and downs of farming and how risky it really is to be a farmer through my father’s work. My grandmother, Patricia Ware, has also shown me farming in her perspective, which I treasure because you don’t often find a farm run by a woman. All generations of my family have farmed in Arizona, which is also a treat because how often can people say that their entire family legacy has been discovered, raised, and still being built in one place? Not many. It all began with the name Fergison behind it, then Ramsey and now for the last 3 generations it has been held with the name Ware.
Will anyone in your family…younger generation...pursue farming and/or ranching? Yes, I have one younger brother, William Jacob Ware, and he is very anxious to be able to dedicate his life to farming. He is only 17 years old and has been involved with the family farm since he was very, very young. I have this theory that, to love farming is very hard, I would say almost impossible. You put all your work and money into the ground that you aren’t even sure will produce the crop. With the weather and the amount of work unknowns you are gambling with every crop and harvest. You pray that everything will go your way and work in your favor but you never know. I would say that farming is a job that people get addicted to just like gambling, you never know what you are going to roll but you are willing to play because you love the game. It’s the people that are willing to put all their money into a crop, that are willing to work late hours, and people that are willing to pour their hearts into their work that succeed in this game. My father instilled this work ethic into my younger brother and he has the fire in his eyes that the 4 generations before us had.
I'm pursuing agriculture management at Arizona Western College right now.
Would you ever consider growing an emerging crop or changing your farm or ranch model? I believe that when the world changes you have to adapt and that is true in farming as well. For example, with foodies focused on organic, farmers are asked and pressured to grow organic. Even though the costs are higher to grow and produce it’s worth it in the end because people pay a higher price for the organic crops than they do for a regular grown crop. With that said, I do believe that I would change the model of the farm if the opportunity proved itself and the bottom line penciled out.
As with most family farms, it's a family affair for the Ware's.
What are your community activities? Why are you involved? I am currently working with the Yuma County Young Farmers & Ranchers Collegiate group with my co-chair, Bailee Ott, in the fight against hunger in all counties of Arizona. This campaign is called Harvest For All; this campaign is a statewide canned-food drive to support the local community food banks. That is the largest community activity I am working on right now. We hope to win not only for ourselves but to bring awareness to our community about the outpour of hungry Americans needing our help.
What is one fact/experience/achievement no one knows about you? Growing up I was a very shy person so I did not gravitate towards meeting new kids easily, so at the beginning of every school year when I wouldn’t know anyone in my class I would become very close to my teachers and help them whenever I could. I usually hid this from the friends that I did have though. Most people would call me the “teacher’s pet” because of my actions. I received an award from my 5th grade teacher, Miss Williams for being so helpful and giving, which now is an honor but then I was so embarrassed because I did not want to be known as the teacher’s pet. But today, I own this little achievement that was presented to me as a child.
What do you think you do really well? Explain. I think that if I was to pick one thing that I do well it would have to be managing myself and all the activities I have going on. Between taking 17 credit hours at Arizona Western College, having a part time job, and being the co-chair of the Yuma County Young Farmers & Ranchers collegiate organization I have very little time to be distracted. I enjoy all of the activities, experiences and guidance I receive from each one and I am not willing to give them up. I manage my time very well and I think that managing my time is something I do really well.
Why are you a farm bureau member? I am a Farm Bureau member because I believe in what they stand for and I have never been let down by this organization or the people involved in it.
How do you participate with your county Farm Bureau? I participate in Yuma County Farm Bureau by attending the monthly meetings held in the Farm Bureau Insurance building. I am also a member and co-chair of Yuma County Young Farmers & Ranchers Collegiate group which keeps me be very active.
The first cotton pickers emerged in the 1950s as one-row mechanical pickers. Back then, it was an amazing innovation. Today, the Ware family and other cotton farmers lean on much larger machines to harvest one of Arizona's Five "C's."
How will the next generation of farmers have to operate? The next generation of farmers is going to have stricter rules put in place by the government and agriculture companies. There will be little wiggle room to get around these companies, if any.