WOW! Last weekend was a crazy, busy weekend that snuck up on me. Yet very memorable.
Friday was Grant County Farm Bureau's 2nd Annual tour for the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima. This year we got about 80 first year medical students and a handful of faculty. Our tour idea started out as a unique opportunity to proactively bring future medical professionals to farms in Grant County.
As farmers we sometimes forget how important it is to tell our story; how and why we do what we do. Our society is farther and farther removed from where and how their food is produced. Many other individuals and groups are more than willing to tell the non-farm public their thoughts on how we feed the world so we have to step out of our comfort zones and talk to politicians, moms, and medical students from all over the United States.
This year our tour took us to Friehe Farm's potato & wheat fields, Rathbun's hay and cattle, Avila's Dairy, and Manzana Organic & Conventional Orchards. One of the coolest parts of this project is the support from ag groups from across the state. Darigold donated milk (white & the fave chocolate!), the Cattle Producers of Washington helped purchase (& grill) US beef, Skone & Connors provided potatoes, and a long list of industry groups sent educational brochures & items for the tour attendees to take home.
Our local livestock extension agent, Sarah Smith, was able to join us to help answer questions and lead a discussion on hot topics in animal ag. Sarah commented "makes me proud to live here and work with the individuals I do - Everyone has such passion!" It is nearly impossible (at least for me:)) to express how much passion these farmers have for their land, what they produce, and their "career".
Pascal at Friehe's was so excited to talk about potatoes and wildlife. He explained about how they manage "puddles" differently than they used to and all the frogs they now have. As he's talking about this a little toad hopped through! We teased him it was a trained one! The students caught the little guy and put him back in the field so it wouldn't get stepped on. I'd seen Pascal at the Jr. Angus tour and learned from him 6 weeks ago and again this past weekend.
Pascal also took us into a wheat field that was ready to be harvested and included research plots. Students got to thrash heads of wheat by hand - a new experience for many.
Our other speakers offered just as much pride & passion. Including a self-proclaimed surfer-dude who manages & owns organic & conventional orchards on the Royal Slope. They are willing to do things differently, including raising crops others tell them they can't and picking blocks of apples multiple times to get the fruit that is ripe, not just the fruit that is there.
Multiple students asked "why would a farm group take on this project". A few reasons,
-We want them to see what we do, including a better understanding of our need for ag labor. These future doctors will not only care for us but all of our employees.
-We want them to meet us, see us and see first hand how (some) of their food is produced.
-We want them to be able to bring first-hand knowledge to the table when someone from outside of agriculture tries to tell them how it is "down on the farm".
To name a few.
Overall a successful day - appreciated the students willingness to ask tough questions and basic questions alike. I echo Sarah, makes me proud (& blessed) to count my family among these AWESOME people that feed the world!
Saturday brought golf - the 9th Annual Fairway Classic to benefit Washington Farm Bureau's Young Farmer & Rancher Program. Thanks to everyone who golfed & sponsored the event (http://www.wsfb.com/programs/yfr). Below is a picture of part of the Wells Fargo team posing at their hole.
We are of course keeping busy on the farm too. The custom harvest crew is getting ready to cut down our golden wheat while our crew works on third cutting. Next week we'll preg check and give pre-weaning shots to spring calves. Keep rollin'!