Take an Intimate Look into Farmers’ Lives

Every April, the Franklin County Farm Bureau hosts an Ag Fair at the Franklin County Fairgrounds for the third graders throughout county. Jennifer Healy has organized this event for many years. This year was no exception, although she was fighting cancer.

Ag FairThe Ag Fair on April 23 was bittersweet this year as Jennifer passed away one day before the event. Jennifer was as passionate as anyone about hosting this event, so kids can experience agriculture firsthand. Even in a rural county like ours, many kids don’t experience farm life.

Thanks to the staff of North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom for doing such a great job. These ladies provide hands-on learning experiences that are so much fun. Third graders experienced many different stations: horses, cattle, fire safety and llamas. Who knew we had so much diversity in our own county? Talk about a well-rounded farm day!

Ag Fair safetyIt’s important for people of all ages to understand how their food is raised. That’s why I accepted an invitation to attend a screening on the Iowa State University campus last week of Farmland, followed by panel discussion. The movie is about several young farmers from across the country with very different types of operations, and the ISU panel was set up the same way. The committee did a great job of bringing together a diverse group of Iowa farmers:

  • Bill Couser raises cattle and crops.
  • Mark Kenney grows crops and seed.
  • Katie Olthoff raises turkeys.
  • Andrew Pitts is an organic farmer.
  • Mitchell Roush grows the famous Muscatine watermelons.
  • And me… a pig farmer with a small crop farm.
Farmland Panel

A diverse panel of Iowa farmers shared their personal ag stories with Iowa State University students, who gathered to watch the Farmland movie and to learn more about agriculture. Panelists included: Larry Sailer, pigs; Andrew Pittz, organic crops; Mitchell Roush, produce, Bill Couser, cattle; Katie Olthoff, turkey; and Mark Kenney, corn and soybeans.

Now his is the way to find out how your food is grown… learn about farming from farmers! Our group represented six very different ways to grow food. And guess what… there wasn’t a single argument. No one put down another farmer’s way of growing food. We had a great discussion about how what we do, and we discussed how our practices are “right” for each one of our operations.

We all grew up in different areas of the state, and we came from different backgrounds. What we have in common, however, is the desire to grow food and tell our costumers why we do what we do.

We talked about food choice, and how Americans can buy what they want. Consumer choices also creates diverse markets for farmers.

One member of the audience asked how consumers can find out more about food, and I believe this panel was a perfect way to do that! Special thanks to Natalina Sents for bringing together such a great event with a panel of high caliber experts to share about what they do.

If you’re interested in learning more about your food is grown, follow some of my favorite ag bloggers including: