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.

Family farm or corporate farm?

We all live busy lives today. Add to that busy-ness, information overload. What do you do with all that information? Who has time to sort through all the information surrounding us? Let me help you with at least one question. What’s the difference between a corporate farm and a Family farm? I have read so many articles lately on the evils of corporate farms and how they are pushing family farms out of business. When I follow the resources I find conflicting information; farm sizes are shrinking/Corporate mega farms are growing, family farms are being pushed out of business/more families are bringing the next generation back to the farm, too much land is being used for food and fuel production/we need to feed more people today than ever before in history ??? My head is still spinning.

Welcome to our farm

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We are a family that grows corn for food and feed, soybeans for cooking oil and sweet corn for immediate consumption :-) My husband and I raise this food together with our daughters, sons in law, grandchildren and my father and mother in law. In order to be able to sustain our farm for future generations we incorporated several years ago. Our grandchildren love working the land with us and talking to our neighbors about what we are doing as well as sharing sweet corn with them in the summer.

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So, as you can see from our farm, things are not always as they are portrayed. We are a family farm that is incorporated. Statistically you will find us included in the “corporate farm” numbers and not family farm. I think that’s very misleading. Incorporating has nothing to do with size or mission and everything to do with financial and long term identity. For us that means we can pass the farm on to our children and grandchildren in a way that protects them in the future.

What’s the difference between a corporate farm and a Family farm? Most of the time NOTHING.

“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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Harvesting for the Needy

Ag Science students harvesting green beans

Ag Science students harvesting green beans

This week at the Fast Food Farm we are Harvesting for the Needy.  As part of the Fast Food Farm project the Ag Science classes and the Pro-Start classes plant seeds in late summer and early fall on 15 rows.  Once a week the Ag Science students care for the plants until it is time for harvest.  What perfect timing for harvest, just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday.   This week we harvested 90 family bags of broccoli, green beans, turnips, peas, corn, and lettuce and donated to the St. Vincent de Paul for the Thanksgiving baskets for the Needy.

Ag Science students and Pro-Start students donating vegetables to the needy.

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.

The “Fast Food Farm”

Planting seeds and seeds of knowledge.

Planting seeds and seeds of knowledge.

It was 12 years ago that I was so inspired by Farm Bureau Federation to begin an educational farm, the “Fast Food Farm.”  The farm provides a stimulating, healthy and beautiful setting where children become connected to the soil, plants, animals, and the source of their foods.  It is at the farm we began teaching with a “Hands-on, Nose-on, Both Feet-in approach to learning about “Where Does Your Food Come From?”   The non-profit organization was founded in 2001 and began its journey of bringing about the awareness of agriculture by engaging the students in planting the seeds and through a variety of projects and hands-on activities.  The food plots were created in the shape of a hamburger, hot dog, french fries, taco, and a chicken, and in each plot planted or raised what it takes to make up the fast food item.  Important lessons about nature and the basic needs of life, all relating to agriculture and the environment, are taught to children and adults of all ages.