Published on Thursday, April 6, 2017
Third generation rice farmer, Matthew Sligar grew up in Gridley, California. With a population of just 6,000 people and surrounded by agriculture, Gridley didn’t appeal to his sense of adventure. “When I was 20, I wanted fast-paced things to do – different people, traveling, different cultures, and new things to see.” He recalls.
So, after college, Matthew moved to Prague. He studied different languages, started a business, and interacted with new people every day. While living abroad, he met a young Brazilian woman, Clara, who would eventually become his wife.
After getting married, Matthew and Clara knew they wanted to start a family of their own. Suddenly, his perspective started to shift. “Everything changed when I was thinking about raising a family, having a stable and secure income. I wanted to be in a place that is good and wholesome to raise a family.”
Looking forward to raising their future children around family, the Sligars moved back to Gridley and Matthew joined his pops, George, raising medium grain rice. “I really am proud of the way my parents raised my brother and I.” Matthew smiles. “My dad has been a rice farmer all his life, and I really value that lifestyle. Now I farm for my family, and I hope that my child, Elena, and our future children or child, grows up and values the lifestyle that they had."
Medium grain rice from California is used across the United States for sushi because of its taste and texture. “I'm very proud to say that in 2015 there was a worldwide taste test of different varieties of medium grain rice.” Matthew explains. “California medium grain rice won the best tasting rice.”
“I farm because my dad was a rice farmer. I didn't choose to be born to a rice farmer. It was just a path that was set before me.” Although Matthew’s career as a rice farmer wasn’t started because of a love of rice, he’s found his passion on the farm. Through weekly video blogs, Matthew enjoys sharing the highs and lows of the rice season with his followers.
In a popular vlog episode, he documented the thrilling and exhausting harvesting process. “At the end of the day, during harvest, when the sun is setting, and you're parking the tractor, our method of operation is always to diesel up the equipment. You’ve got to climb up on top of the harvester to do that. You have this amazing vista point and a view of a landscape of rice and the sunset. You've got the Buttes in the background or the coastal mountain range that you can see super clearly, and just the sun bouncing off the clouds with these pinks somehow. It’s really awesome.” Matthew beams.
"Our farming operation came before me. I'm the third generation. Knowing that, it drives me to create my own mark on it. I'm still a young rice farmer, by experience. Right now, I'm happy to say that I think my path and the mark that I will leave is kind of revealing itself through Rice Farming TV. It has opened me up to new opportunities. It has created new attention to our rice operation, attention that wasn't there before, and is adding on to our family's legacy."
That’s why Matthew Sligar farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Why I Farm Roadtrip, rice, Natalina Sents California, medium grain, Matthew Sligar, Rice Farming, TV