EDUCATING NON-FARMERS: WHY WE CARE

I rode the bus to school. Starting in junior high and until I finally had a car my senior year of high school, Bus Driver Louis and his passengers trekked the same path every morning of every school year. Prattville Junior High School (Go Cats!) and Prattville High School (Go Lions!) are separated by less than two miles in the growing suburb of Prattville, Alabama. So do the math and we did the same route at least 1,800 times across 5 years.

The schools are near the outskirts of town and the most common entry point between the two is Powell Road. The namesake belongs to the Powell family who owns most of the land on both sides of the road. Aside from the towing and wrecking service they operate, they farm cotton and sorghum on the surrounding land.

I had no idea that the Powell family farmed cotton or sorghum or even that they regularly farmed the land until searching the internet about 20 minutes ago. Seems strange considering I rode past the farm probably 3,000+ times. Also, it was the only farm that I saw regularly. Yet, I remained ignorant of general farming knowledge until I started working at IL Corn six years later.

So why am I giving you a personal history lesson? To prove a point: Most people, even if they have minimal access to a farm, don’t understand farming. I passed a farm every day for a quarter of my life and still didn’t take the time to learn. My school did not have an ag curriculum. Simply put, a majority of people have a minority of farming knowledge.

Our world depends on farming for sustenance, but non-farmers do not rely on farmers for their knowledge about food and farming. Non-farmers are being influenced by non-farmers based on fancy marketing and nebulous ideas not based in science. That’s where IL Corn comes in. We want to reach people like me who have barely any farming knowledge, have little access to farming, and unwittingly accept information from “experts” who suffer from our same condition (see the previous two items).

Here are the facts. Farms are overwhelmingly family owned and operated, often going back generations. Yeah, we are talking the 19th century, people. Farmers are not beholden to corporations or to government bodies. Also, farming is a booming industry with technological advancements that would stagger any Average Joe or Josephine. So let’s put this together: We have a wealth of straight talking farmers who have holistic knowledge dating back centuries with some of the smartest people making their jobs safer and more efficient. So why are we entranced by people that have overwhelmingly fewer credentials?

We have no intention to denigrate dietitians, food professionals, or people passionate about food. We are all in the same boat here. However, we have to be better about communicating opinions versus facts. At IL Corn, we are striving to connect with non-farmers and invigorate self-directed learning about farming without the black veil of clever marketing. To trust our food, we must trust our farmers. To trust our farmers, we must take the time to meet them.

It is okay to question. It is okay to doubt. It is not okay to take facts for granted. You want the truth. Farmers want to give the truth. Let’s meet in the middle.

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Taylor McDonald
Communications Assistant
IL Corn

9 THINGS YOUR MOM NEVER TOLD YOU

1. The last piece of pie

You know that last piece of a homemade pie that your mom let you have? Actually, she was craving it all day but instead let you have it when she came home from work.

2. Nothing gets done until chores are done

It’s your mom’s birthday and she expects to go out to dinner to celebrate as a family. However, it’s 6:30 and you and your siblings are just finishing farm chores, and come in smelling like the barn. Your mom never lets it show, however, that she was patiently waiting for hours for this ‘special dinner’.

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3. She knows the importance of riding in the field with dad

As a little kid, many of us loved to ride with Dad In the fields. Right away once you were home from school you’d ask for her to take you out to the field. She never told you she had loads of laundry, dishes, and meals to prepare but she instead took you anyways.

4. The nights taking care of the children by herself during planting and harvest season

Being a farmer’s wife while its harvest season can sometimes get old. Having a husband in the field until midnight and having to take care of the kids by herself is hard, but your mom does it anyways. Sometimes, she even brings a meal to your dad in the field. That is if he’s lucky.

5. The pros and cons of country living

Living in the Country is nice, except for when your mom sends you to go to the store and you forget an item. She hates the idea of having to drive all the way into town but does it anyways so you can have your favorite homemade spaghetti for dinner that night.

6. Tracking shavings into the clean house

While you are out in the barn walking and taking care of livestock and attract what seems like millions of shavings onto your clothing, your mom is inside cleaning the house. That is until you come in and leave a trail of shavings on the floor. She may hate it, but loves that you are working hard and following your passion.

7. Having to drive the truck and trailer to a show for you while dad is busy on the farm

It’s spring and your dad is still planting in the field. There is a livestock show that weekend, and although your mom hates driving the 24 ft. gooseneck and your dads’ truck, she does it anyways to see you happy.

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8. Saying goodbye

Growing up and moving into college is hard. When your mom dropped you off at your new place, she never told you that walking out of that dorm room was one of the hardest things she has had to do; letting her baby grow up. She never told you that even though she may have hated some of the things she has done for you growing up, she wouldn’t have traded it for the world and wishes she could do it all over again.

9. The one thing that YOU never told her

Throughout it all, your mom has been there throughout it all. She has grown to love and share the same passion as you and helps you in numerous ways whether it be in the field, at home, or in the barn. You have never told her that you can’t ever repay her for all of her selfless deeds and that she is your hero. That one day you hope to be half of the woman that she is.

mom crying

bridget_halatBridget Halat
Iowa State University