Published on Saturday, April 29, 2017
For as long as he can remember, Jay Hill has been excited about growing things. Today, he raises pecans, onions, chile, lettuce, carrots, cattle and more near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
His excitement for working outdoors began at an early age. “I remember being four, five, six years old loving to help plant flowers with my mom, and watching all those flowers bud. It was just awesome.” Jay recalls.
As he got older, his interest in farming grew. “We had an old John Deere 4020. I got to drive that when I was about eight or nine years old. I remember I had to use two feet to push the clutch in.” Jay laughs. “We had that 10 acres and I always loved the look of the farm. I loved watching the neighbors as they were farming their blocks. We always had a little bit of alfalfa, and had a couple cows.”
“When I was 16, I finally convinced my dad to plant something other than alfalfa or wheat. We ended up hitting a huge market my first year and that just launched me. I bought the neighbor's farm at 17 and then just started going from there.”
Since then, Jay hasn’t slowed down. After spending two years raising chile in Lordsburg, New Mexico and completing college, Jay came back to the home farm. He juggled farming and working for a produce company until two years ago.
Now he’s on the farm full time running a fresh chili company, restaurant distribution business, pinto bean packing facility, three divisions of Hill Farms, a greenhouse project, and agrihood start up. Farmesilla, a farm-to-market store will be opening soon.
“It's pretty wild, but its everything I wanted and more.” Jay smiles.
Between field work and checking in on employees, Jay shares his way of life through speaking engagements, photography and Snapchat.
As the farm has grown, Jay has been able to partner with others in his community and hire family members. “Between employees and family, I work with the greatest people in the world.” Jay says. “They work hard. They do a good job. I'm proud to have them as part of the team.”
Even though working with family can be a challenge, Jay is thankful for the talents each person brings to the farm. “My brother is extremely detailed. He is one of those guys that just makes sure everything is in its perfect place. If it's out of place, it's going to be put back. And me, I'm kinda the dreamer. I just run like crazy. And then my dad is a banker by trade and he's able to kind of show us what directions we may want to go financially and what makes sense or doesn't make sense. We make a really good team.”
Jay’s wife, Katie, is preparing to manage Farmesilla when it opens. Although it’s very different than her job as a dental hygienist, Katie is thankful for the surprises that push her out of her comfort zone.
“With Farmesilla, every day is different. It's definitely forced me to try many new things, and there is a lot of fun and excitement through that.” Katie explains. “What I'm enjoying most is that it brings me to the farm in a way that is good for me. I'm never going to be a tractor driver, so this lets me work alongside Jay in a different aspect and that's exciting.”
Even through the farm has grown since he was a kid, Jay’s love for the land, and the community it provides for, hasn’t changed. “Getting on a tractor and turning soil over and planting a seed, watering it, nurturing it. I love it! The process of putting something into the ground and nurturing it and watching it grow and knowing that if you do it right, you produce something that feeds people is pretty powerful. Growing these crops, it's a blast. It really is. I really, really enjoy my lifestyle.”
"My career path changes hourly because my willingness to just jump on a random idea. I never thought I was going to be 32 years old and have seven businesses. I never thought I would manage more than 300 people. My deal is, when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, are you happy with what you're doing? Do you do something that is positively impacting the world, or at least your community? Do you enjoy it? If you don't, you need to change where you're at, even if you're not going to make a lot of money. Because life is way, way too short to not do what you love. And when you die, you're not going to take money with you. It's making up your mind that this is who you are and this is what you're going to do. And regardless of what my bank account looks like, I am successful. The idea that I get to raise my kids doing something like this, that's rewarding, is awesome."
That’s why Jay Hill farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, New Mexico, chile, Jay Hill Hill Farms, Wholesome Valley Produce, Farmesilla produce