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

Photo Friday: Down the Road

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Last night I had a conversation about agriculture with a concerned consumer. She asked me what kind of soybeans my family raised. I asked her if she was wondering what brand my family used. She said, “Yes, do you use that Monsanto company because I watched that movie Food Inc.” Right away I knew where she wanted this conversation to go.
I said, “That movie is very biased. They used some very graphic images. You know not every farm is like that.” Then I decided to give her the facts. I told her that 98% of U.S. farms are family owned and operated. I explained to her that those farmers treat their livestock humanly and that my family is part of that 98%.
She told me that she understood what I was saying and that not all farmers are bad. I was glad to hear that she got it but later I found out that she stopped eating meat for three months after watching Food Inc. because the images were so horrifying for her. Now that I think about it I don’t blame her. I’ve seen the movie but I’ve also seen the reality.
I was so glad that we got to have this conversation. I did get a little frustrated and defensive because it kills me when people think farmers do bad things. I know that there are some bad ones out there and that factory farms do exists but I also know that there are good farmers and family owned and operated farms. That’s why it’s so important to have conversations like the one above. The bridge between consumer and producer should be crossed every day so that consumers know the facts and can appreciate where their goods come from.
I know I can only do so much and people can take what I have to say and form their own opinions. I will work hard to continue having good conversations about agriculture because that’s just one way I can thank farmers. And hopefully down the road that consumer I had a conversation with will thank one too.