Agriculture Storybook Time at the Morgan County Fair

Reading and agriculture have always been a daily part of my life. Growing up my mother always read to me. She instilled a love for reading and education that has stayed with me into my adult life and professional career. My farmer father, planted my passion for agriculture in me that has also helped me attain some of my personal and professional goals. Those goals lead me to become a teacher and an active advocate for agriculture in my community. I am a teacher at Monrovia Elementary School and a first year Morgan County Fair Board member. One of the many reasons I wanted to join the board was to use my experience in education to help promote agriculture to the general public. I saw the county fair as a perfect platform to present agriculture education materials. With this goal in mind, I presented an idea to the board to incorporate reading and agriculture, Agriculture Storybook Time. This idea is much like the storybook events that happen at your local libraries or bookstores where children gather around to listen to someone read a story. This new event will take place at the Morgan County Fair (July 29 – Aug. 6) everyday on the Free Stage. There will be two opportunities to hear stories about agriculture at 11:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. A different book about agriculture will be read each time by a volunteer from the community.

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These are some of the books that will be read.

As a lifelong member of Morgan County and 10 Year 4-H Member, I have attended the Morgan County fair since I was a baby. As the years have passed, I have noticed the need for more educational events for small children and their families to participate in during the fair. Agriculture Storybook Time gives children and their families an opportunity to do something at the fair as a family and to participate in an agricultural education experience. Studies have shown the importance of reading to a child for at least 20 minutes a day and the great impact it can have on a child’s development. Reading and/or listening to someone else read helps children’s brain and literacy skills develop. With the busy schedules families have today, it is hard to get in that special reading time especially during the summer months. Agriculture Storybook Time will create an opportunity for children to get this important reading time.

In addition to receiving the recommended 20 minutes of reading, children will learn about agriculture and what farmers do on their farms through the books I have selected to be read during Agriculture Storybook Time. Every child and their family members are consumers, but many are so far removed from the farm and where their food comes from they don’t understand the work farmers are doing for them. This opportunity will help bridge the gap between consumers and our farmer producers.

To sum it up, I encourage you to attend our Morgan County Fair (July 29 – Aug 6) and stop by the Free Stage at 11:00 a.m. and/or 5:00 p.m. for Agriculture Storybook Time. I hope you enjoy this special reading time with your family while learning something I am very passionate about, agriculture!

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Agriculture Appreciation Month Summed Up

March is my favorite month of the year.  I love to see everything come to life after it’s long winter rest.  I love seeing new life on the farm.  I also love seeing my family and other farmer friends prepare for the planting season.  To me, January is not for new beginnings, March is.

I also love the month of March because it’s Agriculture Appreciation Month and there is nothing I enjoy more than educating, promoting,  AGvocating, and appreciating farmers and all their hard work they do for me.

This year to celebrate those hands that feed us, my sister, mother, and I donated books about agriculture to all of the elementary school libraries in our home county of Morgan County.  We donated them in memory of my father, Tim Thomas, who passed away in a farming accident 6 years ago.  Our hope is for the librarians, teachers, and students to use these books to help educate their students and/or themselves about the importance of agriculture and farmers.  I enjoyed picking out the books and educator guides we donated.  It was so hard to only donate a couple! So, my sister, mom, and I decided we will continue to donate and grow the ag book bundles for each library in Morgan County in the years to come.

As a teacher I have many opportunities to teach my students about agriculture. Throughout “Ag Week” (March 14-18) I read many books about farmers, farming, and ag products to help my students understand what farmers do for them and how they get their food and other products they need to live.  After we read the books and watched MANY Peterson Farm Brothers videos we brainstormed and wrote down facts about farmers and farming on our planning sheets.  Then, my students took their notes to write sentences about farmers.  After their writing was complete I let them create their own farmers.  My students had so much fun doing this!

I did a lesson on seeds and plants with my kindergarten class.  We read books about what all seeds need to grow for them to turn into the plants we eat.  Then we made seed necklaces.  This was a fun way for them to learn about seeds and then take their seed home and plant it if they wish.

As a member of the Morgan County Young Farmers I helped some of our young farmers go into classrooms in our county to read agriculture books to students.  Our president, Patrick Maxwell, visited a school in Mooseville’s school district.  He read to his cousin’s students.  Our secretary, Maggie Voyles, visited South Elementary, a school in Martinsville’s school district.  Joe Cleveland, our treasurer visited Monrovia Elementary school and member, Wayne Vaught, visited Eminence Elementary.  Together our young farmer group reached every school district in our county to help educate students about ag.  I was so proud of our young farmers for doing this and I hope to plan more visits to schools in our county for our members.

At my school, Monrovia Elementary School, I planned an Agriculture Appreciation convocation.  All of the students in my school building came to the gym.  There I gave a quick little speech about famers and farming and why it is important we know what they do and to thank them every chance we get.  Then, my principal, Mrs. York, read How Did That Get in my LunchBox?  This book was one of the books we donated in honor of my Dad.  I also made a power point of the pages so our students could see the colorful book pages as Mrs. York read aloud.  When she finished reading I played the Peterson Farm Brothers’ video, I’m so Farmer.  The students and staff absolutely loved the songs and message!

This month I also cowrote an article with my sister, Katie, about women in agriculture that was published in our local newspaper.  I love writing with my sister.  Agriculture has connected us in such a unique way and we love sharing our writing on our blogs and in our hometown publication.

To sum it up, March provides opporutinties for me to share the story of agriculture.  Please say a prayer for farmers as the prepare for the busy planting season.  Pray for safe travel to and from the fields.  Pray for good weather to get the crop in the ground.  And always, always praise and be thankful for their hard work.  Do your part to appreciate agriculture and thank a farmer.

  

Celebrate the Year of the Farmer

By Sarah Thomas and Katie Thomas Glick

It’s the “Year of the Farmer” at the great Indiana State Fair and we are so excited that our favorite people and their hard work they do for each one of us will be featured. Honestly, every year is the “year of the farmer” because without them there would be nothing to showcase at the county and state fairs or growing in the many farm fields throughout the country. There would be no animals that 4­-H members raised or selected from a farm for their projects. There would be no fair food that has everyone marking their calendars for when they get to put their hands around a delicious tenderloin sandwich or pork burger. Or an ear of buttery sweet corn that you know will get stuck in your teeth, but honestly don’t care because it happens to everyone!

Year of the Farmer logo

The Indiana State Fair dates are August 7 – 23. A farmer or a farm family that represents different components of Indiana agriculture will be featured every day at the State Fair. There will be aquaculture (fish), corn, soybean, wheat, apple, mint, pumpkin, strawberries, tomato, beef, chicken/egg, dairy, sheep, swine, tree/hardwood, and wine farmers. They have graciously opened up their farms and businesses to tell their agriculture story, and each one will be showcased throughout many exhibits on the fairgrounds.

Our Morgan County Fair is also honoring farmers, keeping with the same theme as the Indiana State Fair, “Year of the Farmer ­ Feeding America in the Past, Present, and Future”. The dates for our county fair are July 31 – August 8. There will be many farmers attending 4­-H livestock shows, walking through the Merchants Building and eating at the many different food tents. They will be more than happy to talk to you about what they do on their farms and in their fields. Attending our county fair is a great way to educate yourself on agriculture and the people that are involved in the industry that provides food for you and your family.

We believe in the importance of educating others about farmers and our family farm businesses. We want you to understand how farmers have worked hard in the past and present, and how they will continue that hard work in the future because we need them to. Today, one U.S. Farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a Farmer fed only 26 people. Farmers are producing more food on less land while using less water and fuel. They work extremely hard to make sure that we have a variety of safe food to put on your tables and theirs. Farmers also understand that you, the consumer, may not know what exactly their job entails. They want you to trust them and know that they do have your best interest in hand because they also have to look after the best interest of their families. More and more farmers and farm families are welcoming people to take a glimpse into their world­­, their job and their livelihood, it’s one in the same.

Forever our favorite farmer, our Dad, Tim Thomas.

Forever our favorite farmer, our Dad, Tim Thomas.

Agritourism is becoming more popular throughout our state. It’s when farmers open up their farms or facilities to the public to help educate consumers on where their food comes from and how it gets to our tables. With the huge disconnect among consumers to the family farm in today’s society, agritourism has become essential for farmers to showcase their businesses and livelihoods. Our county and state fairs are a great example of agritourism, but there are other agritourism opportunities that are available in Morgan County. Driving around our county you see the abundant corn and soybean fields, but there are other products being grown or raised in the county. You can go to Hunter’s Honey Farm to get local honey or to pick out and chop down a beautiful Christmas tree for your home. In the fall you can visit Anderson Apple Orchard for all your apples and to pick out that perfect pumpkin to create your Jack ­ o ­ Lantern. Visit Willowfield Lavender Farm to see the pretty purple colors and smell the aroma of lavender while touring the farm and purchase some of their lavender products. Morgan County is also home to many in the aquaculture business. Clear Creek, Curtis, and Ozark Fisheries raise their fish in the ponds you may see on your drive. The Morgan County Farmers Market is another great showcase of the products our local farmers work hard to produce. The market is open May ­ September with locations in Martinsville (Saturdays 9-1 PM), Mooresville (Tuesdays 3­-6 PM), and Monrovia (Saturdays 12­-3 PM).

Agritourism is also taking the Internet by storm! Many farmers have created personal blogs to share their farms with consumers. What is a blog? A blog is like an online journal. It’s a perfect tool for farmers to use to document what happens on their farms. Many use pictures and try to simplify agricultural terms for you to better understand what they are doing. Here is a list of some of our favorite farmer and agriculture blogs we recommend:

The Farmer’s Life: http://thefarmerslife.com

Agriculture Proud: http://agricultureproud.com

Boilermaker Ag: http://boilermakerag.com

From My Front Porch: http://www.jentsfrontporch.com

Fancy in the Country: http://fancyinthecountry.blogspot.com

Sarah Sums It Up: http://sarahsumsitup.com

We hope that you are able to visit our great Indiana State Fair and the Morgan County Fair to show your support of Indiana Agriculture and to honor those hands that feed us, the American Farmer.

My brother in-law, Brett Glick on his farm in Columbus, IN. Photo Credit: Katie Thomas Glick

My brother in-law, Brett Glick on his farm in Columbus, IN. Photo Credit: Katie Thomas Glick

Celebrate National Ag Month With Us

This month is National Agriculture Month.  With spring right around the corner, March is a perfect month to plant seeds and share the story of agriculture with people.  My sister, Katie and I are passionate about working together to share and educate others about the work farmers and ranchers do for us.

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We loved visiting the sunflower fields with Dad. To this day they are my favorite flower.

Katherine, (that’s what I call her) recently started her own blog, Fancy in the Country where she shares stories about being a farmer’s wife and her life of all things fancy and country.  She also uses her blog as an outlet to share her passion of agriculture.  I started my blog for similar reasons, but the thing I love most about our blogs is they share stories about our father.  The first farmer we knew and loved.  That passion we use and share so immensely in our writing came from him.  He taught us to do things with passion or not at all.  He taught Katherine first and then me.  Now that he is no longer with us, I look to her for this guidance.  Boy she does a fantastic job filling his shoes!

My sister is the most passionate person I know.  I am so lucky and blessed that I get to do this thing called life with her.  I also love that within the past year we have combined our writing skills, thoughts, expertise, and ideas to produce some of the work we share on our blogs.  Looking back I think it’s ironic that the first piece we wrote together was the eulogy we read at our father’s funeral over 5 years ago.  I like to think of it as Dad’s way of making us work together and to discover we have a way with our words when they are written together.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us as we continue to work together in sharing our passion for agriculture.

To sum it up, I ask you to celebrate National Agriculture Month with us!  Mark your calendars for Ag Day on March 18th and stay tuned for more from the Thomas Sisters!

Indiana Young Farmer Conference 2015

As I pulled into the parking lot looking for a place to park I found many trucks taking up most of the spaces. These trucks had front license plates that read, “Got milk?, BEEF, Boiler Up!,” or the FFA emblem. This was the first sign that I knew I was in the right place.

This past weekend I attended the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference in Indianapolis. I, along with other Young Farmer members from my home county of Morgan County had the opportunity to network with fellow young farmers from around the state, discuss industry issues, and gain advice and inspiration from speakers.  This conference provided us with more tools we need to help share agriculture’s story.  We advocate for agriculture or what I like to call, “AGvocate.”

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Stickers we received and wore to show we are “AGvocates.”

We also had the opportunity to help fellow hungry Hoosiers by packing 30, 888 meals for Pack Away Hunger. To me this was such a special moment during the conference. I was in a room creating these meals with people that grow and raise food. Without them that moment wouldn’t be possible. This is one of many reasons I enjoy being a part of the Young Farmer group. It is not only a group of people that share a similar passion for agriculture, but it is also a service group. We work together to make a positive impact for our communities.

Morgan County Young Farmer members with packed boxes of meals for Pack Away Hunger.

Morgan County Young Farmer members with packed boxes of meals for Pack Away Hunger.

Another one of my favorite moments of the conference was listening to Kelly Barnes speak about how to “create great moments more often.” Barnes was raised on a family farm in Oklahoma. He knows how important farmers and ranchers are to their communities, their states, the U.S., and the world. “People in the world need you [farmers and ranchers]. People will be better off because you’re here. People are fortunate because you exist.”

Read more about Barnes’s recipe for creating great moments more often by jumping on over to my friend and fellow Young Farmer member, Chelsea Nord O’Brien’s (she recently got hitched, but will forever be Nord to me) blog, Boilermaker Ag.

“Like” Boilermaker Ag and Young Farmers of Morgan County on Facebook to stay up to date on Agriculture industry news and what’s happening with the Morgan Co. Young Farmers.

To sum it up, work on creating great moments more often and always remember to thank a Farmer!

A Generous and Giving Breed

By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas

It was a chilly December Saturday on the farm. The barn lot was covered with snow and filled with several semis, but our family didn’t own all of them.  So, why were there so many semis parked in the snow covered barn lot? While many of you were listening to Christmas music and finishing up your shopping, our family was trying to finish harvest.  Yes, just because the seasons according to the weather change does not mean they have changed for the farmer.  Only a few of those semis belonged to our family, the others belonged to different farmers. Farmers who were so generous to give up their time and help our family.  This year was a bountiful harvest (the largest in our state’s history), but it was a wet harvest. We needed more space to store the corn and soybeans we grow in our grain bins. These farmers came with their semis to load and haul away grain so our family could have room to store our grain in the bins.

Semis that belong to our fellow farmer friends that came to help us back in December.

Semis that belong to our fellow farmer friends that came to help us back in December.

That day was also a familiar scene. The barn lot was full of other farmers’ semis over five years ago, the day after our father’s funeral. Some of our farmer friends came out to the farm with their semis to help take loads to a grain elevator and give a beautiful tribute to our father. It was amazing to see our farming community come together when one of their own needed help. That’s what farmers do.  They give help when it’s needed. They are a generous breed.

Semis in the Fall

Semis lined up in our barn lot the day after our Father’s funeral, November 28, 2009, as tribute to his life and work on our family farm.

 Farmers are also dreamers and gamblers.  They dream for a perfect year that brings perfect weather that will help yield the perfect crop.  But they know that the perfect year will never come, and yet they still take that gamble.  Farmers know that there can never be a perfect year because there is always different types of circumstances that get in the way.  Whether those circumstances are the weather, a death of a local farmer or the fluctuating markets, they will continue to make that gamble and strive for the perfect harvest.  And when these circumstances begin to slow them down, others from their breed come with helping hands, and in our case, a semi too.

 They give so much of their time to their farm and their lives to the land while every season brings new challenges but new opportunities.

 Farmers live and die by seasons, and they learn to appreciate each one of them.   All four bring their positives and negatives.  Spring brings warm weather to melt the snow and warm up the ground where the farmers plant their seeds and begin again.  They pray that a late frost doesn’t coat their crops and that rain doesn’t flood and wash them away.  Farmers’ prayers in the summer include timely rain in June and July for the corn and in August for the soybeans.  And it shouldn’t include heat and dry weather that lasts weeks on end.  The harvest prayer is for safety in the fields, on the roads and at the farm.  Winter is a time to plan for the spring planting season, rest up a little and spend time with fellow farmers at meetings learning about new farm practices or how to make our farms better for our families and all those we feed.

 We aren’t saying that farmers work harder or give back more than other professions.  Well, we might be a little biased especially during some of God’s seasons like spring and fall.  What we are saying is that they appreciate the seasons and care for the earth they are given and the people they provide for.  We were fortunate to learn that lesson on our family farm and hope to share it with others.

The year our father passed was also a late harvest.  At times we watched snowflakes coat the corncobs that were left standing in the field.  But they weren’t there long thanks to the farmers who came to help with our harvest.  We are forever grateful for your friendship, commitment to agriculture and your hard working, caring hands. You are a generous and giving breed.

Celebrate the Harvest

   By Sarah Thomas and Katie Thomas Glick

You have seen them, passed them or heard them. Some are green and others are red, there may be yellow ones too.

It’s harvest time. Farmers are in their fields picking crops they have nurtured since spring.

We lost our farmer in the middle of harvest. It was five years ago this Thanksgiving when the tractors were still rolling in the fields and the grain dryer was buzzing through the cold, clear night air. And to this day we still celebrate his life and we still celebrate the harvest.

For the farmer, fall is not about pumpkin spiced flavor drinks and treats. It’s not about taking selfies by the changing leaves or who has the highest score in a fantasy football league. When those leaves begin to change farmers are making sure their equipment is working properly, scheduling loads to grain elevators and making sure their livestock has all the necessities they need for the changing season.

Those monstrous machines you see in the fields and taking up much of the road and shoulder are called combine harvesters. Their job is all in the name; they harvest the crops. Combines are the most important piece of equipment in the fall season. You will also see tractors with a “big wagon” hitched to the back that runs alongside the combine. That wagon is actually called a grain cart. Its job is also all in the name as well. It carts grain from the combine which is harvesting the crops. And then there are semis. The grain from the grain cart is transported into the bed (back end) of the semi. The semi then gets on the road to deliver the grain to grain bins or silos back on the farm. From there, the grain bin stores and dries the grain until the farmer is ready to sell and transport it to a different destination, like a grain elevator or a livestock farm.

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In Indiana, our farmers have a variety of options for their corn and soybeans after the harvest. They can keep it on their farm and store in in their grain bins, they can deliver it to a country elevator by semi or a container yard for transport by train or even a barge terminal along the river for it to be sent down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and then be sent somewhere around the world, most likely China or Japan. They can load it by semi to be sent to a soybean processer to make soybean meal and oils or to an ethanol plant to make ethanol and DDGs (distillers dried grains which is used for livestock feed).

In Indiana, we plant a lot of corn and soybeans with other crops being grown throughout the year including wheat, sorghum, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.IMG_5939

In our state, we mainly think of harvest during the fall. However, there are so many other crops that are harvested throughout the year. Think about your garden and summer farmer’s markets. The agriculture family has stepped up our game in recent years in regards to educating consumers about where their food comes from and about the seasons in which they plant, nurture and harvest. The new documentary film “Farmland” follows several young farmers from around our country and highlights the various faces of farming and what the future of agriculture looks like. One farmer featured is a cattle rancher in Texas while another is an organic farmer in California and yet another poultry farmer in Georgia. All very different but all farmers working in agriculture with harvests that occur throughout the year. You can now watch “Farmland” on Hulu and step foot on these farms and ranches to learn more about agriculture and be a part of their harvest.

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As our Indiana farmers are in the thick of harvest and the month of November is a time to gather around the table with family and friends to celebrate, remember to give thanks for the food on your table. Give thanks for those that planted it, nurtured it, harvested it, took time away from their families to provide it for you and may have lost their lives when the combine was still rolling. Give thanks for the old farmers, the young farmers and the future farmers. Give thanks for the harvest because you are a part of it too.

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Head, Heart, Hands, Health

By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas

Every year, we know when it’s coming. We can feel it in the summer air and we prepare our schedules accordingly for a visit back home to eat our favorite taco salad and pork burger, walk the livestock barns and reminisce about old times at the Morgan County Fair!

Growing up as farm girls, it wasn’t a question if we were going to participate in 4-H or not. We were participating in 4-H because it was in our blood. Our dad was an active member of 4-H along with our uncles. The question was what were our projects going to be, and how much money could we save to buy several lemon shake-ups each day of the fair.

And while it is a place to soak up the last bits of summer with your friends, enjoy midway rides or eat some fried food, the county fair means much more to some individuals in our community. For some youth in our county, it’s about taking a pledge, having responsibility for a project or an animal and being an active member in the community. The fair is a time for 4-H members to show their projects, make memories with their friends from around the county, and play a part in shaping their future—our future. As the nation’s largest youth program, 4-H helps shape young people into responsible and active citizens.

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This picture was featured in my home town newspaper back in when my Dad was an active member in 4H.

It was 1902 in Clark County, Ohio when A. B. Graham started a youth program for youth and adults to come together to learn and teach each other about agricultural practices. We now consider this the beginning of the 4-H programs in the United States. Now there are 4-H clubs serving youth members in rural, suburban, and urban settings all around the U.S. It is the nation’s largest youth program with clubs that spread over every state.

You may have found yourself walking into the fairgrounds and seeing that familiar four leaf clover with an H stitched on each leaf and thought to yourself, “What do those four Hs stand for?” When 4-H members make the decision to join a club or to be an active member in their county 4-H they take a pledge, they learn it and know it well.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

While you may think that to be in 4-H you have to show some kind of livestock, this is completely untrue. Many 4-H members do have livestock projects but there are many that get involved in other ways. Be sure to visit the exhibition hall at the county fairgrounds to see other projects such as: photography, baking, sewing, electrical, genealogy, gardening and much more. All the 4-H members, in all areas, work diligently on their projects whether they are in the exhibition hall or the livestock barns.

The youth participating in 4-H make a conscious decision to take a challenge and be responsible for a project and along the way learn how to better themselves and their community. Therefore, we challenge you, as a former 4-H alumni or not, to visit the projects in the buildings and the barns and to learn something to better yourself. And along the way, you will help better your community by supporting our county 4-H members.

And as you walk to get your lemon shake-up or stand in line to get your favorite fair food, you can usually spot the 4-H members with some ribbons in their back pocket. We encourage you to talk to these members and ask them about their projects. They take great pride in their hard work. The hard work that has taught them responsibility and lessons that will be with them forever and that they will use in their community—our community.

Read more about 4H on my sister, Katie’s blog, Fancy in the Country.

 

National Agriculture Day 2014

By Katie Thomas Glick & Sarah Thomas

When we sit down for a meal, it has become common practice to give thanks for those that have prepared the meal in front of us. However, do we go beyond those that have cooked the food to those that planted, nurtured and harvested the food? Do we thank our farmers enough for growing the corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables and fruits along with caring for our animals?

As sisters that grew up on a farm, we have always appreciated where we came from and the soil under our feet. However, after losing our father, Tim Thomas, in a farming accident in 2009, we decided to dedicate our lives to telling the story of agriculture. Today is National Agriculture Day and we invite you to learn something new about agriculture today and to thank a farmer. If you don’t know a farmer, pray for them as they prepare for planting in the coming months or send a good thought their way when there is too much rain or not enough. You can also show your appreciation by remaining patient as your drive behind a tractor traveling from field to field.

Farmers never have a day off–from planting the crops to caring for the land, worrying about the weather, staying up late in the cold to watch a cow have her baby calf to preparing for a days work before the sun rises and harvesting after the sunset. And the worry of the weather, it’s constantly on their minds even in the winter on how much snow will fall and replenish the soil in the their fields. We heard something true recently, “mother nature never takes a day off” and neither do farmers.

Today is National Agriculture Appreciation Day but really, to us and many others, every day is agriculture appreciation day. Every day the farmer gets up to tend to his crops or livestock to make sure they are safe and prospering for us. We are consumers, almost everything we use in our day starts with the farmer. We want to help consumers understand the work of the farmer.

Below are a few fun facts and websites we wanted to share with you as you learn more about where your food comes from and the families that grow the crops and/or raise the animals. If you have questions, ask a farmer or do your part as a consumer and research the facts before assuming what you hear is true. We have the luxury of having an abundant, safe and affordable food supply in the United States and we need to remember to thank our American farmers for their hard work and dedication.

Indiana Agriculture Rankings (According to USDA NASS)
> Ranks 2nd in tomatoes for processing (Red Gold is located in Indiana)
> Ranks 2nd in spearmint
> Ranks 4th in soybeans
> Ranks 4th in total eggs produced
> Ranks 5th for number of pigs
> Ranks 5th in corn for grain

Fun Farm Facts:
> According to the 2007 USDA Agriculture Census, 95% of farms are family owned and operated.
> One acre of soybeans can produce 82,000 crayons.
> In the U.S., we spend less than 10% of our income on food versus 18-25% around the world, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
> There are 29 different cuts of beef that meet government guidelines.
> A cow will produce an average of nearly 7 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,500 gallons each year.
> For every dollar spent on food in America, the farmer sees less than 12 cents.

National Ag Day, http://www.agday.org
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, http://www.fooddialogues.com/
Common Ground, http://www.findourcommonground.com
Sarah Sums It Up, http://www.sarahsumsitup.com

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Don’t Be Afraid to Talk

Last night I read an article about a woman who frequently flies and loves to meet new people. On one of her flights she was seated next to a 70 year old farmer. She expressed how much she enjoyed listening to his story and how she better understands where her food comes from because of their conversation.

If you know me personally or have read some of my other posts on Sarah Sums It Up, you know that I LOVE farmers. They are my favorite people to talk to. I have a family full of farmers and many of my closest friends are farmers. But I must confess that at times I am scared to talk to them. I am scared because it makes me sad that I don’t get to have conversations with my favorite farmer, my dad, anymore. It’s silly really. I will go awhile without talking to some of my family and farmer friends and when I finally do stop to catch up with them, I leave with a smile on my face. I walk away from our conversations thinking, why did I wait so long to stop and say hi and to see how they are doing? I walk away happy.

For those of you who have questions about where your food comes from or you just want to find our more about what farmers do, talk to a farmer. Today farmers are understanding that it’s important to have conversations with consumers. They know that the work they are doing is good and they are learning how to share that with the consumer. Social media has opened so many avenues for farmers and ranchers to share their stories with anyone who wants to listen. Here is a list of some of my favorite farmers and ranchers out there sharing their story:

The Peterson Brothers
Agriculture Proud
The Farmer’s Life
The Beef Jar

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National Agriculture Day is March 25th! Mark your calendars for this great opportunity to start a conversation with a farmer or rancher.

To sum it up, if you get the chance to talk to a farmer, do it.