"I challenge you all to think more deeply. I challenge you to get involved and make a difference. There will be no better opportunity to be happy than to follow your passion in life. Take action on something you're passionate about. Don't deny what God created you uniquely to be."
- Daron Babcock, Founder of Bonton Farms
On October 10, ESD seniors had the incredible opportunity to hear from Daron Babcock, founder and Executive Director of Bonton Farms, as part of the annual Robert H. Dedman Lecture Series Endowment for Leadership.
Mr. Babcock, who was introduced by Senior Class President Will Minnis '19, spoke to students about the importance of following their true passions in life. Mr. Babcock left his job in Corporate America because he was compelled to make a real difference in the lives of others. After a friend introduced him to a group of men fighting to stay out of prison after their release, he left his job and moved to Bonton "with no other plans than to be a good neighbor."
Mr. Babcock's journey to founding Babcock Farms was not a direct line, which is something he felt important to share with students. Bonton is known as a "food desert," or a community that resides farther than one mile from a food source or large grocery store. He recognized he could make a lasting difference in the community by improving their food problem. He and several other community members planted a garden alongside his house, soon realizing this was an opportunity to not only create a food source but to make money in the process. Mr. Babcock visited the City Council and was given a plot of land to form the first Bonton Farms. Later, after a series of fortunate events and generous donors, the Bonton community members were gifted a bigger tract of land, cultivating tools, and more volunteers to form what is now the Bonton Farms Extension.
Founding Bonton Farms was not only a test of leadership but also a lesson in how to overcome obstacles. He told of how their first piece of land was overgrown and they could only afford a few machetes to begin clearing the land because it was "all they had." A volunteer noticed and the next weekend, the group brought chainsaws; this also seemed insufficient to clear the land, but it was "all they had." Finally, another volunteer brought a tractor and the land was able to be cleared. Mr. Babcock reminded students to persevere when following their passions and seemingly facing the insurmountable: "You'll think you can't overcome it because you don't have the tools, but if you show up with all that you have, the rest will fall into place," said Babcock.
Started in 2002, the Robert H. Dedman Lecture Series Endowment provides students opportunities to learn lessons in leadership from outstanding achievers across many industries. Guests have included captains of many industries, heroes, and champions of philanthropy and service. For more information, please contact Carol Bergman (firstname.lastname@example.org).