Latham Seeds Welcomes Kate Van Manen as Digital Marketing Strategist
She was supposed to be on vacation that summer day instead of working. He had an internship he was supposed to be at, yet he happened to be at his parents’ farm helping give a tour to a group. Their meeting was serendipitous.
Today Kate and Jacob Van Manen are raising their children just a quarter mile away from where Jacob was raised – and where his parents still farm – near Kellogg in Central Iowa. They raise cattle, field corn, soybeans, sweet corn, tomatoes and pumpkins.
Tomato production was Kate’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) when she was in FFA, so she has renewed her interest in vegetable production. In 2020 they built a high tunnel, so she enjoys spending quiet time picking tomatoes after her children are asleep.
“As our kids get older, I’m excited to share with them lifelong lessons, as well as spiritual truths that closely align with many aspects of the farm,” says Kate, who grew up on a farm in Northwest Iowa near Storm Lake. Her family raised corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs. “Many tasks on the farm are done with family, which is something really special. Our daughter, Kennedy (age 4), gets excited about picking sweet corn at 5 a.m. with her great grandma. Kennedy also enthusiastically scoops cattle bunks in her Frozen® dress. It will be fun to see what farm tasks that Karter (age 1) enjoys.”
“There is something about letting your kids get their hands dirty and drink from a hose,” adds Kate. “One fun Dutch tradition that I married into is ‘coffee time.’ Great Grandma Trudy Van Manen lives across the road from us. She hosts a coffee time daily at 9 a.m., which brings everyone together for a break during which we enjoy the most delicious, homemade Dutch treats. Some mornings there are four generations present! It’s a simple thing but so special.”
Shared family values are one of the reasons Kate decided to join family-owned Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.
“I am glad to be back in the ag industry professionally as I enjoy working with the most amazing, down-to-earth people,” says Kate, who had managed social media and assisted with marketing efforts for another regional seed business after she graduated in 2014 from Iowa State University with a major in Agriculture Communications and a minor in Entrepreneurial Studies. Most recently, she worked in marketing and communications at a regional hospital. “I really appreciate the level of flexibility and trust that Latham Seeds provides to its team members. I feel very empowered to manage my time and projects and grow in my career skills. I also appreciate their values and importance on family and the understanding of farming challenges.”
Kate says she is especially looking forward to attending Latham® Dealer Kickoff this summer. She says she looks forward to meeting Latham dealers in person and interacting with them and their spouses online in her new role as digital media strategist for Latham Seeds. Kate is responsible for developing strategy and implementing tactics for Latham’s social media channels.
In her free time, Kate enjoys traveling, gardening, fitness and going on gator rides with her family to check their crops. They often spend a few hours – after 5 p.m. during the summer months – pulling weeds from their pumpkin patch. Kate also enjoys cooking.
“I did not grow up baking Dutch treats, and I’ve learned that’s entirely something different!” says Kate. “I usually volunteer to bring vegetables to Van Manen family gatherings, but a friend shared with me a recipe for Dutch letter bars. This recipe is so easy to make, and it tastes exactly like Dutch letters without all of the work. I brought these bars to coffee time once, and everyone thought they were delicious! I make these when we need something sweet in a pinch.”
Dutch Letter Bars
Recipe by Bev Flanders
- Cook 30 minutes
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup almond paste
2 cups flour
- Cream together butter, sugar and margarine
- Add in almond paste
- Add in eggs
- Stir in flour
- Optional: sprinkle decorators sugar or chopped almonds on top (before baking)
- Bake in 9x13 greased pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees