Harvest Tour Showcases Ag’s Importance in Franklin County

This past weekend was one of my favorite times as a farmer trying to connect with people, who are not close to farming. I was happy to be part of a group of farmers and local businesses that hosted the 5th Annual Harvest Tour for bloggers!

Special thanks to the sponsors who make this possible: ABCM Corporation, the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County Farm Bureau, Iowa Farm Bureau, Franklin County Tourism and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds!

This tour is held the first weekend of October, which is great timing because there is so much activity here at that time of the year. Harvest is always underway, although I remember one year harvest was early and last year it was a little later. This year the timing was perfect!

Shown above is the bloggers and their families whom attended to tour.

Shown above are the bloggers and their families whom attended the tour.

Each year a different group of bloggers are invited to stay in our farming community. Those invited have little or no experience with farming and their blogs reach thousands of people, who for the most part, also have no experience with farming. Bloggers who participated this year included:

You can follow what they had to say on Twitter and other social media channels by searching the hashtag #FranklinCoHarvest. Most attendees are amazed by what they find on this tour, and then they share by blogging. Here’s an example:

“This was my first time spending time in a farm town and I learned so much. Life is definitely different but it is so great,” wrote Erin Child in an October 5th post on Her Heartland Soul blog. “I met some of the friendliest people, who have so much pride in their community and I can see why. Farms are the backbone of the country and it is incredible getting to live so close to that!”

This blogger tour has been a fantastic way to explain what we do out here in North Central Iowa! We started the weekend tour on a Friday evening at the REA Museum. This was the first farmer owned, electric power plant west of the Mississippi. This building still houses one of the huge generators that first brought easy electricity to farms. Before that, some farms had only small generators and a bank of batteries to power their farms!

Bloggers learning about the uses of tiling on farms.

Bloggers learning about the use of tiling on farms.

From the museum, we traveled a short distance for a welcome reception at the Townsend Winery. What could be better than food and wine tasting to set the mood to meet new friends?

Saturday started with coffee and breakfast at Rustic Brew, a coffee shop and brewery on Main Street in our county seat of Hampton. After breakfast, we toured the Franklin County Historical Museum. Not only does this place show a couple hundred years of farming history, it shows how life has evolved in our area. It even goes back thousands of years with artifacts dug up from prehistoric times.

Next up was time to explore downtown Hampton. Like many small towns, Hampton’s specialty shops offer unique items plus they play an important role in telling the history of our county. Everyone enjoyed either shopping or returning to the Rustic Brew for another refreshment.

After our tour of the town, we traveled to rural Franklin County for lunch of “pork and beans” at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. Pulled pork, pumpkin bars and Val Plagge’s “Hog Wild Baked Beans” were once again crowd pleasers.

As we ate another terrific meal, we learned farming facts from the North Central Ag in the Classroom. This is a program to share farming with our grade school kids. Even out here in the middle of farm country, we have found that kids need to hear about what happens on the farm. This organization reaches 10,000 students each year, providing classroom materials about #RealPigFarming, ethanol production and soil conservation to name a few.

Bloggers learning about the Ag in the Classroom program.

Bloggers learning about the Ag in the Classroom program.

The next stop of the day was the one everyone had been eagerly awaiting! Roy and Jeanie Arends farm outside Alexander gave an interesting tour of their operation. Before the combine rides began, we learned about field tile. Roy did a good job explaining what tile do and why they’re needed here. Roy and Jeanie’s son, Drew, explained GMOs and why farmers use them. Of course, the combine and tractor rides were then a huge hit as always! The amount of technology in today’s equipment always surprises everyone!

After a brief break back at the motel, we had supper, dinner to the city folk, in one of the local Mexican restaurants. This was a great time of conversation, sharing about the tour so far.

To finish the evening, we attended a live production of “An Evening Like It Used to Be” in our local historic Windsor Theatre. Local musicians and actors put on an old Vaudeville-type show that had great live music and comedy routines. It was a great way to end the day!

Sunday morning was the end of the planned activities for weekend. Bloggers enjoyed breakfast and a tour of the Leahy Grove Independent Living Center. Afterwards, they were invited to attend the annual Harriman-Nielson Fall Festival for another look at Franklin County’s Danish history.

I’m looking forward to reading what the bloggers have to share about our weekend! Search social media for #FranklinCoHarvest to follow along. In the meantime, here are links to blogs about past years’ tours that were posted on TheFieldPosition: