May 2013 - Monica Houweling at Houweling's Nursery - Ventura County Agricultural Education
Monica Houweling is an absolute delight. We hear all too many times the average age of the American Farmer is around 60 years. At Houweling’s Nursery Monica is defying this statistic at 19. She represents the next wave of young, passionate, progressive and smart next generation farmers. A chip off Casey Houweling’s block, Monica is way beyond her years in more ways then one. Every time I talk to her she is getting more involved in all aspects of the family business; marketing, sales, hydroponics and front person at many local Ventura County Community Events. She is also one of the newest members of CWA Ventura Chapter.
Last year I loved hearing Monica say, “Ventura County Agriculture is like one big happy family. It’s much different up in BC where I’m from.” Monica loves Ventura County and it’s AG Community and they have embraced her back.
Monica said she has learned more than she could have ever imagined in the short year and a half that she has been working in Camarillo. The biggest thing she has picked up is how to work with people. And she has opened her eyes to the affects the market has on sales and how quickly it can jump up and down and how important a strong marketing strategy is to the business. Of course, she too has learned a lot on the growing side of things. “What it takes to produce a strong crop and how important it is to control disease and pest pressures.”
She loves the fact that what Houwelings’ grows benefits the public and that if you put the right effort in, working hard truly pays off. She states, “I just wish that agriculture was respected to a greater degree outside of the industry.” “Me too, Monica.” Casey, her father, has inspired her, “To never give up on her dreams and to live with passion because that is the way I see him work every day. He would never have gotten this far if it weren’t for that.”
Monica said, “Canada is a lot more difficult because of the limited light during the winter whereas in Ventura we have the ability to grow year round. Cucumbers add variety to our tomato sku’s and by adding this to our selection we please our customers. We pick about 120 million cucumbers per year that meet retail grade.
Lastly, Monica is a horse lover and competitive Dressage rider and national silver medalist winner. She has loved horses before she could even walk because of her mother. Her mother is an avid rider so Monica and her sisters were given the opportunity to start taking lessons from a very young age. “I don’t think there is one thing that necessarily made me decide horses were for me. I would say it has more to do with the freedom and peace I have when I am around the horses. The barn is the place I can go to forget about everything and just be me.”