My Passion – Fast Food Farm

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION?   My passion is teaching our youth as well as adults at times about the importance of agriculture.  This time of the year ends my nine months of fulfilling my passion.  My year starts with the beginning of the spring season and ends with the end of the fall season in teaching about “Where Does Your Food Come From?”                                                        

Fast Food Farm sign

At the Fast Food Farm the youth become physically involved in the growing process of their food.

Through hands-on activities they learn how the weather affects the plants, and what happens to the food when it leaves the farm.   They also learn about food nutrition, food preparation, and food processing.

#3 .Harvesting for the Needy - Geans 2

In working with the Ag Science students throughout the school year I have seen them grow in leadership and character to become leaders in our community.   At the Fast Food Farm students learn how to respect the land as they discover how to cultivate and prepare the soil for planting.  

 Throughout the nine months over 5000 students are learning about “Where Does Your Food Come From?”  It is so rewarding to see our youth connect to the soil, plants, animals, and the source of their foods.

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“RICE”

As a young child, my father was a rice farmer in Crowley, Louisiana; “The Rice Capital of  America”.  Now as an adult I live in Arkansas, rice producing state.

 

Arkansas is the nation’s largest rice growing state, producing half of the nation’s rice and nearly nine billion pounds annually.  Arkansas ranks first among rice producing states. 

 

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Rice production is concentrated in the eastern half of the state.  The top five rice producing counties are Arkansas, Poinsett, Cross, Lawrence and Lonoke.  Arkansas rice is sodium, cholesterol and gluten free.  Rice has only a trace of fat and has not trans  fat or saturated fat.

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Wordless Wednesday: DC conference

Last week there were 47 farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists in town for an exciting training and networking opportunity, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2014 State Chair Conference. Here you can see some of the group before they attended an information session at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History:

47 grassroots leaders braved the weather in DC!

47 grassroots leaders braved the weather in DC!

Riding the bull

This weekend I had the great pleasure of working with women veterans interested in farming and ranching through the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s second annual Empowering Women Veterans Conference. As a non-veteran and a displaced farm girl in the city, I was more than slightly out of my element. So on the final night of the conference, I finally had a chance to do what a lot of women in agriculture do best – encourage others!

Walking from the reception (where Farm Credit & the FVC expressed excitement about the Homegrown by Heroes project), we passed through 4th Street Live in Louisville. (And by the way, I’ve never felt so safe in my life than walking down a dark street with a group of strong warriors, even when passersby heckled us.) As we walked by a well-known cowboy bar, one woman said, “Hey, I wanna ride the bull in there.” Well, OK!

It didn’t take much convincing to have others join us around the bull ring. While the woman may have been nervous about her goal, I noticed a few things:

  • A woman who stands by what she says will impress and influence those around her. (A conference presenter actually shared this by highlighting her “Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm Project,” stressing actions, not words, are what matter.)
  • By sharing a goal, a woman provides herself a chance to be encouraged by her peers. Others may get so wrapped up in empowering her that they may join in! (I promised not to name names.)
  • “Taking the bull by the horns” doesn’t necessarily have to be literal but a person does have to start somewhere. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the pyramids didn’t appear overnight…every dream can become reality if the vision is put in motion.

I learned so much from the women who attended this conference and am so proud of all they have achieved and all they hope to accomplish as beginning farmers/ranchers growing and raising food for our nation.

Engaged, Empowered and Strong

This theme for the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee program of work has shown a depth of continued commitment to preparing women as leaders. We set up training programs and conferences; Boot Camp for media and leadership training; and offer literature and educational information to help farm women from all corners of the United States – to step up and speak out for their agricultural industry. May they lead the way toward strengthening the ideals of farm families and promote a positive image of their agricultural industry to consumers.

We are proud of all the farm women leaders who have “engaged” this leadership role; who are “empowered” to represent their ideals and way of life; and who are “strong” enough to lead the way toward a better understanding for everyone of how farmers produce food, fiber and fuel for today’s world.

Thank you ladies.

“Camden Children’s Garden” of New Jersey

What an exciting place to explore the wonders of plants and nature. This 4 1/2 acre interactive garden is a wonderful place for families to learn about what grows, flowers and many other hands on fun activities.

garden

Community gardens are a great way to learn about soil, plans, and food! Here the NJ Farm Bureau Women visit the City Invincible Charter School Camden to check out their awesome garden!

“The Mission” of the garden is to provide stimulating garden environments to engage families in creative and imaginative play. By exploring the gardens and attending the special events, families discover how plants are important in our everyday lives.

There are at least 20 different interactive sites for learning; picnic gardens, a tree house, peace plaza, red oak run and many more.

Each month from April – starting with Earth Day, special theme events are scheduled, for example: July is Blueberry Blast and celebrates NJ Day – ending with December and the Festival of Lights, an after dark stroll to look at the thousands of lights and animated sculptures.

“The Garden” offers a variety of educational activities for both students and adults. These are separate from the basic garden visit and have a fee and require reservations. Birthday parties, theme parties, corporate events and weddings are also a few opportunities to take advantage of the special garden adventure.

Tracy Duffield has worked with the garden for many years and has helped with their “Distance Learning” lessons offered over ISDN lines for grades K-12. The addition of agriculture information into this learning system has been a win-win for all.

NJ Farm Bureau Women helped support one of their teaching programs and were able to tour the gardens to see how much agricultural information could be added to their programs.

We organized the planting of an evergreen tree on their grounds. Dorothy Bryan designed and hand painted canning jar lids which we made into weather proof ornaments to celebrate the Christmas season; NJFBW were impressed with the imaginative learning activities that were available at the Camden Children’s Garden.