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 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.

IMG_0993

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.

IMG_5937

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.

IMG_0988

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

53198446cd48a.image

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Today is Earth Day and I will be doing my part by supporting the hands that take care of the land and put food on my table. Farmers are the best stewards of the land. They must take care of the land because it is part of their livelihood. They are responsible for our most precious resource.

Today one farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed 26 people. Our population is expected to grow to 9.1 billion by the year 2050. Farmers will have to use fewer resources, including fewer land to continue providing food, fuel and fiber for everyone. They’ll do it by continuing to develop new technologies and techniques to help them get the job done. And they will because it is their job.

To sum it up, every single day is Earth Day to a farmer.

20130422-005636.jpg

Photo Friday: Down the Road

20130329-080051.jpg

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.

Photo Friday: The Facts

• Indiana ranks 5th nationally in the production of corn; producing 960 million bushels in 2007.

• Indiana ranks 4th in the production of soybeans with 211 million bushels produced in 2007.

• Indiana is the 2nd largest producer of popcorn in the nation.

• Indiana ranks 2nd in tomatoes for processing 249,000 tons.

• Indiana ranks 4th in peppermint producing 293,000 lbs. and 5th in spearmint producing 81,000 pounds.

• Indiana ranks 2nd in the number of layer chickens. The state is also 3rd in the nation for total number of eggs.

• Indiana produces more ducks than any other state in the nation.

• Indiana ranks 2nd in the production of both regular and fat free ice cream.

Resource: Ag in the Classroom

 
Here are some other great websites where you can find facts about Indiana agriculture:

Indiana Farmers Feed US

Indiana’s Family of Farmers

20130321-204345.jpg

Happy National Agriculture Day!

20130319-014746.jpg

Today I would like for you to join with me in thanking and celebrating all those who work in the agriculture industry. I have been posting a lot about ag here on Sarah Sums It Up because March is Agriculture Appreciation Month in Indiana. But today the ag world gets attention on a national stage. I am very passionate about agriculture and want to help those in the industry share their story. Today I ask you to talk to a farmer face to face or through social media outlets. Farmers love what they do and I am sure they would love to tell you about all their hard work.

Here are some of my blog posts about agriculture and farmers:

I love Farmers

The Farmer’s Verse

The Definition of a Hoosier

So God Made a Farmer

We Come and We Go

My sister, Katie and I created this newsletter to share today. Please click on the link below to view!

A message from Katie and Sarah

To see how others are celebrating and giving thanks today search and follow the Ag Day, Farms Matter or Agriculture Proud hashtags on social media sites #AgDay, #farmsmatter and #AgProud.

Please share and create your own ways of thanking farmers for all their hard work they do for you! But remember every day is Agriculture Day!! I love farmers