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  • Writer's pictureRachel

Communicating with California: Part 1

We’ve got a story to tell today. And its not like our normal ones. Normally, each week I’d be posting something agronomy related. Things that people are talking about in their trucks, in the coffee shops, and here in the office. And while that is all well and good and we all learn a lot, I suppose there does come a point where its good to take a step back and cover something a little less dense. Something that might be an easier read. That’s what I have here today. It’s a story about a chance connection, a rare opportunity and hopefully a fun anecdote.

Lets head back a few weeks to October 25th. We are in the throes of soil sampling, trying to crank out as many acres as we can before it gets ***truly*** cold. If you remember back, it was one of those 50 degree days, not a glimpse of the sun and just a solid cloud of mist all day long. Not the worst day to sample, but definitely not one of my favorites. To be honest, I spent most of the day with my head to the ground trying to pull samples as fast as I could. Wasn’t a great day to look at gorgeous blue skies, or great leaf colors. Just kind of blah.

We had sampled all morning, stopped to get some warmth in our bellies, and were back at it again for a couple hours. Four of us are working together on this particular day, Kyle, Andy, Mitchell and myself. We meet up at a field entrance before tackling the next field. That’s when Andy rides up with a cute little balloon tied to his 4-wheeler. We wondered at his choice in decoration but didn’t want to judge him too soon. Okay, so we didn’t really notice the balloon, but he did have one.

Turns out as he was sampling the field he was on, he came across a balloon with a note tied to it. Before I share what the note said, can we all take a minute to think about how rare and unlikely this is? Andy was sampling a quarter section on 2.5 acre grids. This means about each point is 330 feet from the next point. We drive straight from point to point, meaning there is a lot of the field we don’t see up close. The chance that the balloon was caught right in the line between points? Or that our points intersected the balloons location? I’d call that a pretty rare chance connection. And what about the fact that it was pretty windy that day---and yet the balloon was still caught on some stalks in the middle of the field and not twisted up in some fence row or caught in some treeline. Maybe I am too impressed by the fact that Andy found it—but to plead my case, lets all remember that rural Brown County is about 8 people per square mile. THERE ARE A LOT OF OPEN SPACES OUT THERE!

So, moving on. Andy found a note, and this is what it read.

“Hello my name is Bianca. I’m a physical science student conducting an experiment. When you find this card, please write the streets and city it was found in, and drop it in the mailbox.

Thank you, Bianca”

The address was Fontana, California. 1,491 miles away. Quite the science experiment.

Fontanta is located in San Bernadino county—the 12th most populous county in the US. (And interestingly larger than the 9 smallest states)

This got us thinking. What a rare opportunity to share with some students, likely unfamiliar with where their food comes from, about agriculture! What if we could send them more than just some coordinates of where we found the note? What if we could explain who we are, and what we do in Brown County, KS? So we decided to try. I put together a little book explaining who we are as a company, how we started, what we do, and how that relates to their class, physical science. But then I also spent time discussing what it is that YOU all do as farmers. What the different parts of the growing season look like, and how we use the crops we raise. I included description and photos and videos to help explain to them what you do.

We all hear and read the misleading articles and videos about agriculture. And we are all aware about the need to better explain to folks removed from the farm what we do, why we do it, and how we choose safe, sustainable practices, no matter what misinformation is out there. I think all of us on some level want to be an advocate for agriculture. But sometimes we never get the chance.

Well, we got our chance. We got the opportunity to educate the next generation about farmers, even if in some limited sense. That we aren’t the cartoon version of us that they may often see depicted. That we are scientists, and businessmen and women, that we are innovators and experimenters, and that we are community members and family members that are doing there very best to provide for our families and support our communities.

I think I often struggle between feeling downtrodden by the perception of agriculture and also my perception that as small row crop farmers we aren’t really making that much of a positive impact on the grand scale of things. But I think both of these are a dangerous space to operate from. Both cripple me, and stop me from taking action. As soon as I tell myself that my work doesn’t matter, I am buying into the falsehoods that we often hear about production agriculture from the outside. So here is a reminder to myself and to each of you. The work you do matters. The efforts you make to provide for your family, and to run a good business, and raise a better crop each year directly impact your community and state. We are proud of the efforts you make to choose science backed technologies and for going out of your way to be good stewards of your land. Your ability to operate as a successful farm business provides jobs, capital, and support for this community. We are proud to work with each of you every day.

I titled this article Part 1, because I am really hoping there is a Part 2 to share with you all. I left the opportunity for communication open with the teacher and classroom. I would love to hear from this class of 8th graders, and love to answer any questions they might have about agriculture. I really hope we hear from them again. But even if we don’t, I hope that our small contribution will help provide a positive framework for their view of agriculture—maybe this only translates to decisions at the grocery store, or perhaps as far as becoming an advocate for agriculture as well—but I hope it does have a positive impact.

So, if you had the opportunity to share about your farm and what you do with a class 1,491 miles away, what would you share? Comment below! Maybe we will get the chance to share it! What steps are you taking to advocate for ag right now?

Are you interested in seeing the booklet we supplied to them? Leave a comment below or message me!

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