Note: This is the first of a three part series to celebrate National Agriculture Day that will show my (non-traditional) journey to Agriculture. My hope with this story is to shed light on the many different faces of a “farmer” and how those who are not born into family farms can still learn, celebrate, find careers and purpose in this important industry.
At the beginning of 2014, a good friend and sorority sister encouraged me to join a blogging group supported by her employer, Indiana’s Soybean Alliance. The group is a network of women bloggers with agriculture backgrounds. The group holds monthly lunch meetings that include blogging speakers or workshops.
It sounded like a great opportunity so I eagerly began attending meetings. And just a few months in, I have already learned so much.
I am getting better with layout design (Aren’t the bigger pictures nice?), social media (“Like” Bloom on Facebook, if you haven’t already!), and I have really loved networking with woman who have been doing this for years and have found success in the blogging world.
Not to mention, they have been a lot of fun to get to know.
But, just like any time I join new group, especially a group of women that have known each other for years, I can’t help but wonder where or if I fit in.
A big element that adds even more pressure to trying to fit in is that all of these women grew up on farms, have careers in the agriculture industry and/or are farm wives. The group is even nicknamed the “Farm Girls” within the Indiana Women Blogger’s Network.
Well… I am not really a “Farm Girl.”
At least, I never thought I was.
I know I live in a small agriculture based town on eighty acres that are farmed. And, my husband has a major passion and career in the agriculture industry. And, that I have five little hens.
But, it wasn’t always this way.
My insecurity about fitting in became even more prevalent a couple days ago when I was reading a beautiful “Farm Girl” blog. The blog is full of great stories and a good look into her love of agriculture. On a particular post the Farm Girl wrote as she regaled about her childhood on the farm, “And who doesn’t have memories of playing through the beans?”
In fact, about five years ago, I asked my then boyfriend as we drove on country roads through northern Indiana what “that other plant” was.
They were beans.
So, no. I don’t have any memories of running through beans.
But, I do remember running through large sprinklers on summer evenings as the Country Club watered the golf course.
And, just like the Farm Girl, I also have fond memories of childhood and love where I grew up.
Where I grew up, there were cement bike paths connecting every neighborhood, and tunnels that ran under main roads so children wouldn’t have to cross the street.
We would race each other around the cul-de-sac and ring our neighbor’s doors to see if they could come play “Ghost in the Grave Yard” or “Hide and Go Seek” after dinner on summer nights.
The town was also always hosting some major event.
It would come to life after winter for a St. Patrick’s Day parade, where my Dad starred as St. Patrick a handful of years.
There was a PGA golf tournament each spring bringing in all the big players. I had friends who got on ESPN during the tournament and others that babysat the pro’s children at an “undisclosed location.” I often worked at the pro shop the week of the tournament and admired the golfer’s wives diamonds and black AMEX cards.
The 4th of July celebration included concerts from Boys to Men, Kool and Gang and more. And, fireworks were beyond spectacular.
In early high school I raged to Flogging Molly before they made it big at one of the worlds largest Irish Festivals that is held every August.
I still love where I grew up.
The town was and still is beautiful. So was my home.
I always felt safe and that could be because the town has been ranked one of the safest in the nation.
It is also ranked as one of the most intelligent towns in the country.
I do not know anyone from my high school that did not go onto college. In fact, my old high school has topped High School rankings for years.
In school, we were challenged. We were told we could be whatever we wanted to be and were given over three hundred courses to choose from to figure that out.
We had award winning yearbooks and news magazines. Our morning announcements were live from a studio that looked almost like any other professional news room. The school’s musicians were composing musicals. The students who were strong in math and science were taking leaps to prepare them for medical school. Honors foreign language classes traveled abroad to experience cultures first hand.
Even through the school’s extracurricular activities we were doing extraordinary things. There was always some cause to support, be it a huge dodge ball tournament for the victims of a hurricane or a formal event for the whole city to raise awareness about a crippling disease. As a senior, I was president of an organization that raised over $26,000 for Juvenile Glaucoma through speaking (At seventeen years old…!) to major local business leaders to encourage donations for a community wide 5K.
We were given opportunities and we were encouraged to change the world.
But, despite our 4.0 GPA’s, near perfect SATs or scholarships to the colleges of our choice, if you had asked me, or any of my friends, where our food comes from, we would have likely said, “the grocery store.”
In our childhood years, we had a huge disconnect to where and how food gets to our table.
Of those three hundred class options listed in the course catalog, not one of them was related to agriculture.
Heck, the only thing even related to food was a class called “Global Gourmet.” (Likely placed the course catalog knowing that one day these young people are going to be in a dinner meeting and probably shouldn’t be ordering chicken tenders…)
Where I grew up, farming and agriculture were not considered to be a career.
And, why would it?
Where I grew up, no one farmed.
I have looked back at my family tree trying to find any connection to agriculture and as far as five generations back I learned I come from a long line of industrialists: Car dealership owners, patent officers, military leaders, engineers, and marketers.
And, it wasn’t just my family. My friend’s parents were teachers, computer programmers, development managers, architects, government representatives and more.
There were no “Farmers.”
No “Farm Wives.”
No “Farm Boys” and no “Farm Girls.”
Where I grew up, “Farmer’s Daughters” were only in Beach Boys songs.
The only hint of agriculture in my town was a field of corn.
A field of cement corn.
Literally illustrating, “Agriculture is what we were. Progress, industry, cement: that is what we are.”
Where I grew up, farming was backwards.