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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Class on the Farm

My niece will celebrate her 8th birthday in a few weeks and I'm pretty excited about her gift. 
I recently learned she loves "playing school" just like I did when I was her age!  
So she will be getting a bell, hall passes, workbooks, a grade book and more!  

Obviously I am thrilled because I love back to school shopping!
And I recently wrote an article about how farmers need to "teach" more and 
open their "classrooms", their farms, more to consumers.  

You will see my recent Farm Indiana article below.
If you are a farmer, I hope you teach someone about your farm and
 what you are doing in the fields this fall.

If you are a consumer, I hope you ask a farmer about what he/she does on his/her family farm, in the fields and in the pastures with the animals.  Don't assume, ASK!

I'll be ready to teach you from the field in my backyard or with the cows in the pasture next door.
Ask me if you have questions, I'll have my bell and grade book in hand!


When I was younger, I had a school classroom set-up in my parents’ basement and acted like I was a teacher, day in and day out.  Before getting on the bus each morning I would visit my class and tell them that they would have a substitute for the day.  I never grew up to become a teacher, but I find myself “teaching” people about agriculture day in and day out.


I was at a reception lately, enjoying my wine when I encountered a woman who had been given so many myths about agriculture.  I spoke with her briefly and gave her some straight facts when she said, “I feel like we as consumers are so targeted and given so much information, I don’t know what to think anymore.”  I handed her my card and said, “Email me, I really have so much that could help you understand where your food comes from and why we do what we do on our family farms.  I want safe, healthy and affordable food just like you and I live on a farm, so let’s talk.”  I received an email from her first thing the next morning. 

Then I recently had to defend the 4-H program and bacon.  “How can those kids show those animals and become close to them, then sell them and go eat a hamburger or bacon?  I think it’s cruel.”  After taking a deep breath, I explained the 4-H program, hard work, our understanding of the circle of life and providing for others.  I didn’t get through to this person but it made me realize, yet again, that there are many people in this world that don’t understand our way of life and the lifelong lessons that 4-H teaches our children.  Nor do they understand that cruelty isn’t a part of agriculture and that farmers want to provide bacon for everyone’s table, if they want it. 

Most students will go back to school this fall and not have one lesson about agriculture even though much of what they learn is related to ag such as science, chemistry, math and even history.   I have visited classrooms and taught an agriculture lesson to inner city students who had no idea about how to grow a plant or what cows really looked like.  Cows are in my backyard, but these kids don’t even have a backyard to see something grow let alone hear cows each morning. 

We in agriculture have taken our wonderful way of life and our jobs to provide food to the world for granted too long.  We forget that many kids think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows and that brown eggs are better for you.  They think the food at the grocery or Wal-Mart comes from “the back” instead of our families’ fields, barns and pastures of the countryside. 

There is no substitute for our lives as farmers and advocates for agriculture.  And there is no bigger classroom than the one we live in, work in and dedicate our lives to—that of agriculture and our farms that touch every single person.

 So for those of you who are farmers, I urge you to teach.  Educate someone about what you do day in and day out and find some way to apply it to their lives as the everyday consumer who doesn’t live on a farm.  For those of you that don’t farm, I ask that you learn.  Be open to learning about what farmers do and how they care for their animals and their farm.  If you have questions let me know, I’m not leaving my classroom between the corn and the cattle anytime soon.   

1 comment:

  1. My granddad grew up on farms up near Tipton and Elwood. By the time he was raising me in Florida, his stories of farm life were vague and lost in decades past. But the Indiana land and the agrarian life has always pulled to me, and now I get to move home to Indiana. I love reading about the history and the agriculture that is such a huge part of our state's heritage, so thank you for your blog. It's the most accessible bit of a look into farming life that I have been able to find!