Am I Really Qualified to be an Agvocate?

Photo Credit: Yarrow Photography

Photo Credit: Yarrow Photography

Guest Blog by Kaitlyn Bartling

I’ve struggled over the past several years to come to terms with the process of agvocating. I have honestly questioned whether my voice counts as an agvocate.

I am married to a farmer, who is a part of a Century Farm in Hardin County Iowa, but I work full time at a job that is not agriculture focused. I know there are as many views of agriculture as there are producers. Organic, GMO, natural, antibiotic free, free range, confinement, commercial – listing those made me feel political not agricultural. I don’t really care for politics. Since my agricultural experience isn’t always going to align perfectly with another producer’s reality, even in my own township, am I harming their farm story when I talk about ours?

I’ve hesitated to call myself an agvocate because I do not have amazing technical or creative skills to do musical parodies like the Peterson Farm Bros or Farmer Derek Klingenberg. My work removes me from our farming operation and daily chores. I have a blog, but it is really about my interest in creative writing. It chronicles the life that goes along with being a farmer’s wife and the meals I make along the way.

I only saw barriers and reasons I couldn’t be called real agvocate. Then I rediscovered something…

I have a deep and abiding dedication to this life I have made, standing next to my husband and kids. The ignorance of the consuming public about the basics of agriculture will impact my children’s ability to raise livestock and food crops, even as youth project participants. The masses of consumers who have no connection to or knowledge of how food comes to them will certainly impact the opportunities my kids will have to be involved in our family farm as another generation. These same voting consumers will impact the issues of food security and water quality for the world’s population. Most importantly, My Farmer’s Wife blog gives my kids a voice and an identity that is as linked to our family farm as the seasons are linked to crop production. If I don’t support and encourage them and my husband’s vocation, I’m not the mom and bride I set out to be!

I decided to begin to support other agvocate projects and develop a voice locally. I take time to write personal notes to other agvocates when I see them approach a difficult topic on a blog or news outlet. I involve my kids and husband in ways they are comfortable in reaching consumers.

My family agreed to submit a video for the “Happy” parody that Derek Klingenberg put together last year. The week this parody was released was the only time my son was willing to participate in preschool show and tell, and he talked to his classmates about the cattle in our clip.

When our daughter had a week to share with her 3rd grade class, she chose to have her dad bring three piglets from our farrowing barn. She told the class what she does at our farm and asked us to talk about how pork is produced at our farm.

This year our kids will be giving out Ag-tines instead of commercially produced Valentines. We have designed ours from pictures that fit our interest. They are just from a publisher postcard template, but they serve the purpose of giving our kids a conversation starter.

GusAg-tine-2015 Emma-valentine-2015

Our family doesn’t have an amazing, high dollar, coast-to-coast, super charged communications platform. We wouldn’t know what to do with it if we did. We do have a willingness to engage with others and give a little time on a regular basis to think about incorporating agriculture into the everyday world of others. We can’t be afraid of telling our farm’s truth while still respecting the place and the value of other farms that may not be exactly like ours.

It has taken some time, but I’m finally ready to say I’m an agvocate. I hope you’ll join me!