I remember when I was growing up, I didn’t particularly hide the fact that I was a farm kid– but I also didn’t share about it regularly with friends, at least not outside of the FFA group anyway.
As a senior, when I was awarded the State Star Farmer award for FFA – a pretty big deal – I was embarrassed when they put it on the reader board at school, and I downplayed it when sports teammates asked about it.
Looking back, I’m not sure. I guess I figured that, because most of them didn’t understand farm stuff, they wouldn’t be interested. What I didn’t realize, though, is that most people do think what we do is interesting, like getting to take care of newborn baby calves or drive ‘giant’ tractors and combines.
My oldest son has loved sharing about our farm, what we raise, and how he helps on it since he was old enough to talk. His classmates and teachers hear all about our farm on a regular basis, and I love it.
I wish all of us in ag were comfortable showing our passion for our industry like he does, because it is cool.
Harvest time is a great opportunity to connect with fellow Oregonians and teach them things they don’t know. People love the assortment of Oregon-grown fresh fruits & veggies available at farmers markets and even local grocery stores. Take advantage of this summer showcase to connect with our urban counterparts!
There are many opportunities within marketing to tell stories about the farm families that grow a product, or print facts about a crop on packaging materials. If you are like my farm, raising crops that get further processed before direct consumer use, take advantage of social media to show pictures of combining that wheat that will become noodles and pastries, the grass seed that will grow in lawns and parks (sequestering carbon and helping cool urban areas), the turnips that will be part of a wildlife or cover crop blend – most people have no concept of how far-reaching or diverse our agriculture is in Oregon.
Probably my favorite thing to do during harvest is invite others to ride in the combine with me – I’ve had everyone from the neighbor kids, to people from other countries, and government and elected officials in my buddy seat.
It’s a great time for education about the crops, and why we use the different practices we do in our work. I don’t think any of them have walked away without thinking that what a combine does is amazing. It’s even still cool to me and I’ve operated one for 30 years!
I know harvest is a busy and stressful time, but the opportunities to use Oregon’s bounty to connect & educate are so very worth it.
Whether you invite someone to take a ride in your combine, have some local officials over for coffee, or simply share an Adopt a Farmer post in between tasks, every bit helps other Oregonians realize what even we can forget sometimes:
Agriculture is cool, and we are ready to talk about it.
Oregon Aglink President