What is in this article?:
- Zach Sheely is the fourth generation of his family to farm — and he admits that can be a daunting legacy.
- California agriculture long ago melded computers and farming/ranching, but Zach Sheely is taking it to a far more intuitive level, thanks to the touch screen technology of the Apple iPhone and iPad.
- The New York Times predicts iPads and copycat tablet computers will be the fastest-adopted technology in the history of digital devices. Numbers back that up — iPad sales are projected to reach 28 million this year, and by 2012 more than 63 million.
Educating about farming
“Agriculture gets a bad rap in the media,” he says. “Maybe if we can tell how we’re using technology that the public understands, it could help us educate them about farming.”
He has been interviewed on National Public Radio about the family’s farm, and has publicly defended agriculture to not-so-friendly audiences.
“Zach talks to people who scare me,” says his father.
Zach has an unusual ability to communicate through another talent — he is also an opera singer.
A tenor who has pursued a serious musical career since he was 16, he has appeared in a variety of roles, including Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Boheme, Duke in Rigoletto, Alfredo in La Traviata, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Arturo Buklaw in Lucia di Lammermoor, the Conductor in Pasatieri’s La Divina, Brack Weaver in Down in the Valley, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Hermes in Victor Kioulaphides’s The Silver Swan, and Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors. He made his international debut in 2006 in Hanzhou, China, as Don Jose and Remendado in Carmen.
The week after being interviewed for this article, he had a major competition in Los Angeles.
“My music career opens other doors to allow me to tell agriculture’s story. There aren’t too many opera singers who are farmers,” he laughs.
“I enjoy doing both, but I don’t want to give up my spot on the farm. I really enjoy making this computer and technology work for people like my father.”