If you’re a member of Kiwanis or other such service organization in and around Albany, OR, you’ve probably heard Skip Gray preach. It’s not a religious message, but one about agriculture. Like a lot of vegetable growers, Gray is sick and tired of self-described “environmentalists” who portray farmers as abusers of the land.
“I want to tell ag’s story,” Gray says of his numerous speaking engagements. “I love to share the truth: If we are make our living from the land, why would we want to destroy it?”
Besides the fact that unlike many involved in agriculture, Gray’s willing to take the time to spread the word about how growers are closer to the land than anybody, the way he imparts his message is somewhat, er, unusual. He uses rock ‘n’ roll.
When he steps to the lectern, Gray pops in a DVD that opens with the Gray Farms logo and a soundtrack of Elvis Presley calling for “a little more action.” Most of the short film features scenes of his employees engaged in various tasks on the farm, such as cultivating a field or welding machinery. Gray himself doesn’t appear. “If you want to know anything about me,” he explains, “it’s about the guys who work here.”
His employees love the movies, and they’re great for of boosting esprit de corps. But their main purpose is to get his audience’s attention — “they kind of pep things up” — so he can deliver his message: “We’re the ultimate environmentalists because we know the dirt and the water around here better than anyone else.”