Nick: What do you do? Is that your mission?
Felipe: That’s a good question, whenever someone asks me that, I sometimes say I’m a farmer, and that’s true, I grew up on the land working the fields. But today when I say I’m a farmer, I really mean that I sow seeds of hope. And that is really my mission. Just inspiring people by doing the right thing. I always go back to the roots…not “My title is this”, but really being a farmer at heart and sowing seeds of hope. That’s my why. Who I am is bigger than my title.
Nick: Okay, planting seeds of hope, can you elaborate on that? I have some of my own thoughts, just on a personal level based on how you have affected my life in a positive way, but where does that come from?
Felipe: I guess it’s because I’m benefiting from somebody else. I’ve had so many people help me and believe in me, from all walks of life, and I believe that God put those people in my life. I live to do that for other people. I know I can’t change the world all by myself, but if I can plant seeds of hope in small ways, I know it can add up to something big.
Nick: You weren’t born rich or from a powerful family, you come from humble beginnings as a migrant farm worker. I don’t mean humble in a negative way …
Felipe: No, in fact it’s a positive. I have more than a lot of people. Even people who were born wealthy, they don’t have what I have. People would love to have my family and my family dynamic. I know so many kids who are so wealthy, but they’re lacking that love from family. It’s a matter of perspective.
Nick: And Hope…just to share something personal, your story and your speaking have really helped me to hope and be positive. You’ve taught me to see hardship as something not to be avoided, but as a positive. That God is working to shake me out of my comfort zone and show me another way of being. You and your story have given me so much hope in times of trial and helped me to see that there is a purpose in struggle … that there is a bigger story that I am a part of that I don’t fully understand. Having come from a farm worker background did you see a lot of hopelessness and if so, did that impact this drive to make a difference in people’s lives?
Felipe: I go back to the fields and I see joy. People are happy and I wrestle with this idea of telling people that what farm workers are living is not good. There are so many positives to the way I grew up and the material struggles that we had. But I do come with this idea that you could make a change and that could afford you a better life. I mean…if I was still in Mexico, I don’t know what I would be doing. This country has given me so much. I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at if I was still in Mexico. I guess I engage with people and see what is good for them instead of imposing my viewpoint or solution on them. That’s why I connected with you on business ownership. Give farmworkers an opportunity to own the business. I think back on all of the work my family and I put into building farm businesses. Yet we didn’t get to share in the wealth. All we got was poor health, lack of economic opportunity, and lack of educational opportunity. Even the simple things as having a nice home where we could have something that was ours were not provided after all the backbreaking work. It’s a hard question because we tend to think that education, money, power will make you happy, but if your soul is not full it won’t really help, but some basic things like a safe work environment, wealth building, and access to education do help improve life.