Sunday, November 5, 2017

When You Visit A Farm...

I have partnered up with the Will County Farm Bureau to highlight some of their farmers as well as some of the programs that they run.  The opinions are my own.    

When you visit a farm you will - well, you'll learn a whole lot.  I reached out to my City Mom's coordinator a few weeks back after seeing this video.  

Here is the thing, why are people so inclined to listen to celebrities?  

I was part of a group of about 20 something other moms from the Chicago-land area who in 2015 got to tour local farms to learn more about where our food comes from.  It was an amazing experience that totally changed how I view farming and food and how I purchase food for my family. (Spoiler - I was the anti-Monsanto, farmers are uneducated fools, and I'm suspect to EVERYTHING you are telling me, person).  We wrote blog post and shared our experiences on social media, but I feel that there is so much more that needs to be done on this front because the disconnect between food production and food consumption is still vast.  And, with shiny new terms to describe the food that we are purchasing constantly changing or having very little meaning outside of being a marketing gimmick, how are we suppose to know what to buy and why?  
  
The one thing that was mentioned time and time again while I was part of the City Mom's program was that food purchasing is a personal choice that we make every time we go to the grocery store.  So, by no means am I here to debate opinion.  What I will do is lay out fact.  

But first, that question, again - why are people more inclined to listen to celebrities? 

Here is what I'd like for you to do, visit Illinois Farm Families.  And, I'd like for you to watch this video after you watch the one linked above. 

Words have power folks. What do the words "local", "sustainable", or "responsibility raised" mean to you?  I want you to think about that for a moment. 

Anyway, back to my farm visit ... I reached out to my City Mom's coordinator who connected me to my county farm bureau and within a few hours, I had a date with a combine set up.  Now, I do want to mention that many local farmers hold open houses, so if this is something that you are interested in checking out, reach out to your local farm bureau and see if there is anything planned in the future for you to check out. 


I met up with Mark Schneidewind, Manager of the Will County Farm Bureau, and his wife Anita at the farm bureau office in Joliet.  From there I followed them a short drive away into Manhattan and onto Kiefner Farms where I met John Kiefner.  He and his wife run a 500-acre farm where they produce corn, soybeans, oats, hay, wheat, and honey.  Additionally, the famous chickens of Roost 66 reside there.


I was immediately thrown into an educational lesson on combines after I was introduced to John.  He explained how his combine was about 30 years old (not one of those fancy GPS guided ones), and then he went to work making sure that it was set up correctly to harvest corn.  More specifically, for me to harvest the corn.  


Once it was good to go, I jumped into the combine with John and he shared a little bit about soil conservation and the methods that he has in place on his farm to assist stopping soil erosion, which he's been farming for over 35 years.  He relies on no-till practices to curb soil erosion and to keep vital micronutrients in the soil and out of the waterways, and plants grass buffers to control runoff into ditches.  One of the other really neat things that I learned was the John harvests his corn a little higher so that there is a little bit of the corn stalk left in the ground so that it traps the snow in the rows.  This allows snow to stay on the field instead of blowing all over it and allows that trapped snow to melt on the field where water is needed. The use of cover crops, which John utilizes on his farm, is also vital to soil conservation as it increases the amount of rain that soaks into the soil.   


    

 
It's all about that soil!

By using what is known as "conservation agriculture" farmers can save their land and money. Bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms all live in healthy soil.  Not only are they a natural defense against pests and disease, but they help create more nutrients for our body when we consume the food grown from that soil.   This is vitally important as the population grows and more food is needed to feed people.  John mentioned that there is going to have to be a change in how we purchase and consume food. Though companies like Monsanto are utilizing GMO's to increase food production for just that reason, the way that we use food needs to be examined on a personal level as well. 



Farmers like John Kiefner are doing their part by practicing no-till techniques, which leaves crop residues on the field to not only preserve moister but also by providing nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes for new plants, and scientific advances in agriculture are allowing the possibility of increasing crop yield harvest and creating plants that can withstand drought in addition to being pest and weed resistant, what changes are we, the consumers, needing to make to ensure that we, too, are participating in sustainable practices with our food consumption? 

Like I said, when you visit a farm you'll learn a whole lot. 



By the way, I want to share an article John wrote about the economics of farming here, because my home is a poly-sci and econ home and I find this information fascinating.  Maybe you will as well. 

2 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed the combine ride. Here is the video I told you about on the topic of "Cab Corn". Today was the first time all year I had some corn spill onto the cab, only about a coffee cans worth. Obviously, the video, was much more than that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM_PlYJCp9o

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  2. Woah! I am super grateful that did not occur.
    Thanks you, again, for having me out.

    ReplyDelete

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