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Childhood dislike grows into beloved hobby, extra income source for Jacksonville residentOriginally Published September 19, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated September 18, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
Val Sviridov hated farming when he was growing up in Russia, but about five years ago, he picked up farming as a hobby to give him extra money to support his family.
While he was growing up, he said, his parents and grandparents had farms, and he couldn’t stand the lifestyle, but he decided to pursue farming to provide for his children and wife. He calls himself “The Russian Farmer.”
“My one full-time job wasn’t enough,” Sviridov said.
When he’s not farming, Sviridov works as a security guard at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.
Sviridov, who is originally from Krasnogorsk, Russia, moved to Arkansas 16 years ago to find work. He worked in Cabot before taking a job at the Clinton Center, which opened in 2004.
Farming gives Sviridov a way to let go after work and forget about other
responsibilities he might have or something that might be bothering him while he’s at work.
“I enjoy the freedom [of farming], and it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “It’s my job after my job.”
He works evenings at the Clinton Center, so he gets up every morning and works on his farm, which he’s grown to love.
“I learn from my mistakes,” he said. “[Farming] is a way to feed my family and make money.”
He said he enjoys the farm, where he grows sunflowers, strawberries and squash, among other crops.
“When you farm, there are no bosses,” Sviridov said.
His love of farming makes up for the long, hard hours he puts in working his crops, he said.
“[Farming] is a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work,” he said. “You can’t get rich doing it, but it’s the best job in the world.”
Sviridov also has 250 fruit trees around his property in Jacksonville.
Sviridov said the saying “money doesn’t grow on trees” doesn’t apply to him.
“I can see money on these trees,” he said as he motioned to trees full of fruit on his farm. “I’ve got apples, cherries, plums, apricots — you name it.”
One strategy he uses when he grows fruit trees is to place rose bushes between the trees.
The rose bushes serve as barriers between trees, but Sviridov said the roses also bring in more income, and his wife, Vivian, likes them.
When he’s ready to work on his farm, Sviridov simply steps out of his front door onto the land he farms and does what he loves.
“I don’t have to drive anywhere,” Sviridov said.
His children, who are 11 and 13, are the driving force of his farming, he said.
“The kids want games and clothes,” the farmer said.
Farming provides a way for him to give them the things they want.
“The Russian Farmer” goes to the Argenta Farmers Market in North Little Rock every week and enjoys the time he gets to spend with fellow farmers in the area.
He said one of his neighbors taught him how to grow strawberries, and like any farmer, Sviridov said, his berries are the best around.
Besides providing additional income, Sviridov said farming keeps him occupied.
“I’m not going to quit [farming],” he said. “If I can’t walk, that’s when I’ll quit.”
More information about Sviridov’s farm is available on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/therussianfarmer.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or email@example.com.
Zoned Editions Staff Writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.