Following His Heart to a Second Calling, Suburban Detroit Priest Becomes California Farmer
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
People change careers for a variety of reasons, but Ken Erickson took that notion to an extreme. Erickson, who had grown up in the Detroit suburbs and who was serving as an Episcopal priest in Detroit, received a phone call from relatives who had been farming in Sutter and Colusa Counties for 25 years.
“My aunt and uncle asked if I would be interested in coming to California to learn how to farm and help manage their orchards, which included walnuts, pecans, and olives for oil,” said Erickson. “So my family and I eventually made a decision to do just that, and it has been a big adventure for us.”
Currently living in Meridian, Sutter County and working side by side with his cousin, Lars Jerkins, Erickson took stock, “We are enjoying living and working in the country. It’s great to work outside,” he said.
People often ask Erickson about the difference between farming and pastoring. “I tell people trees are like people; they need lots of nurture and care, but they don’t talk back,” he quipped.
But, of course, giving up his career as an Episcopal priest required a great deal of thought. “It was a hard decision,” Erickson explained. “It was a big change, but we decided to go for it. Here we are and learning from lots of people, especially from my aunt, uncle and cousin. And I have come to respect and appreciate the fact that the farming community is supportive. They want to help in any way. My family and I are here to stay.”