The Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce recently called the office and asked Harvest Land to appear on their weekly Chamber Chat series, which highlights upcoming community events and businesses. Typically, we’d go to a small TV studio on the campus of IU East to do this interview, but because of COVID-19, this was done virtually through Zoom.
During the interview, we were able to give a general overview of our cooperative business, discuss how we handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and also how the pandemic will go on to affect us down the road. There is so much to consider daily as we navigate today to prepare for the future in this changing world.
“Wow. Every time I talk to someone from Harvest Land, I learn something new about what you’re doing and who you’re serving, and it seems like that number just continues to grow,” responded Roxie Deer, Director of Professional Development.
While there are many pressing things that cover our desks, truck dashes, and to-do lists at work, we think it is still important to answer these calls in order to tell our story. Not only because of our rich history in countless small communities in Ohio and Indiana, but also because we have a lot to offer.
We kept construction projects running by fueling machines when other areas of the country shut down. We hired more than 70 employees when other businesses laid people off during COVID-19. We continued to make huge contributions to fire departments with grain rescue tubes to ensure they’re prepared to serve communities. Our work doesn’t slow down and we’re quite fortunate to employ more than 300 people who have never let their foot off the gas since March.
This week we invite you to watch the interview, now on YouTube. The first part talks about the approaching Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce Farm Tour. We’re proud to sponsor this annual event which is organized to educate the general public on all areas of agriculture. It will be held at The Barn at Helm on August 27 (REGISTER HERE!)
If you fast forward to 12:20 you can watch our interview and learn even more about our evolving business climate.
The fact that you can drive around any country block today and see some sort of plant emergence represents the promise of better days.
Between COVID-19 changing how American’s live day-to-day and a cold, damp spring (rain is pounding the window as I write this), this place could use some fresh air and sunshine.
Farming is a profession of hope.
You put millions of tiny, unassuming seeds in the ground, cover them up, then hope for sunshine and timely rain. You drive around weekly (or, daily) scouting fields for the first sign of emergence indicating that a tiny sprout was so mighty that it broke through million-year-old dirt with a story. All of this, while you continue to hope for sunshine and timely rain.
Life’s most valuable skills don’t come with an instruction manual and it seems we’ve learned so many of them in this profession.
the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
In farming, patience can be found when growing degree days are minimal and you have an expectation of emergence that simply isn’t happening. Patience is best learned and utilized when an implement breaks down or a spotty shower shows up and lingers on your last 50 acres to get in the ground.
hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
In farming, optimism can be found when opening up a field to harvest in October and or pulling onto the co-op scales to sample and weigh your product. Optimism is best learned and utilized when you’re staring in the face of low commodity prices but you remember that all things are cyclical.
complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
In farming, faith can be found everywhere, including when you’re actually in the act of planting the seed, or climbing in the bin for maintenance or driving the semi through a busy intersection. Faith is best learned and utilized daily, when your feet hit the floor and you begin another day to produce food to feed people who you’ll never have the opportunity to meet.
With greased, calloused hands we’ve leafed through hundreds of instruction manuals with loose covers and marked pages in our lifetime.
But perhaps the greatest guidance we require to get this farming job done comes from within.
Interview an agronomist on-camera about current disease pressures.
Interview an energy manager on-camera about propane safety.
Film a propane sales specialist conducting an in-home safety check.
Take various photos during each of these video shoots to have stored in our photo library for use down the road.
We arrived at the homestead where we were going to shoot the in-home propane safety check and I was impressed. A beautiful home which sat off the road, a well-manicured yard, and flawless landscaping that seemed to put a bow on the entire package.
I took many photos that day and have since used them extensively over the last two years.
Fast forward to Tuesday of this week. I asked our CEO to give a promotional piece a final review before sending it to print.
“The detailer looks good. Accurate. But that photo needs replaced. It is terrible,” said our CEO.
“What photo?!” I responded. I work to ensure every print piece that comes out of our office is professionally done and pleasing to the eye.
“The propane one. What do you see when you look at that photo?” he asked.
I studied it.
“A man delivering propane on a sunny day. A clean truck,” I was quick to remark.
“Weeds! Two weeds. Big weeds. They really stand out,” he responded.
I laughed. “Those aren’t weeds! Those are flowers. That’s part of the landscaping around the tank. Black eyed Susan’s. They’re just not in bloom,” I defended my use (extensive use over the last two years) of the photo. It had been on every social media channel and used in several print pieces.
He studied the photo. “Those are weeds. Goldenrod. They need pulled or sprayed.” He was steadfast in his conviction of weed identification and treatment.
I asked why, if the photo bothered him and it was used so many times, had he not mentioned it before now? He revealed that he had confidence that I would notice the weeds, remove the picture from things and the problem would be solved. Boy was he wrong!
I was taken back by the misunderstanding, so I tried explaining that the very reason we shot at that particular customer’s home was because it was so well tended.
Landscaped with colorful details waiting to emerge.
Our CEO then explained that anyone who sees this photo won’t know that. They only see a guy delivering propane with two big weeds in the way. Our audience didn’t drive up the driveway and see the house, the yard, the barn. They only see the goldenrod (black eyed Susans).
He was right. Unless you know your flowers pre-bloom, these plants looked like weeds.
I appreciated that particular photo because of the natural lighting that day. The clean and well-maintained propane truck. The faceless driver, intentional so no one associated the image with a particular person. The spotless propane tank. And finally, the two flowers awaiting their time to shine.
But unless you were in my shoes – or, the shoes of the homeowner who planted them with intention – you wouldn’t know those were flowers. You may think those were weeds.
It was a classic lesson in perspective: What one person sees, another may not.
That is why it is critically important to value perspectives as we move through life experiences, careers and relationships.
In fact, the key to successful relationships lies solely in our ability to value the perspective of another and find the ability to look at things from a point of view other than our own.
It can be tough, but it can be done.
Is there an area in your personal life, career or relationships that might benefit from a change in perspective?
To step out of your shoes and into another’s?
To ask questions in order to learn, rather than assume? Especially during this time of uncertainty and unpredictability.
Perhaps now is the time. I know that a brief conversation in the corner office earlier this week sure changed the way I’ve thought in the last couple days, and it will continue to do so. I’ll certainly remember this lesson when I am tasked with the job of taking photos or video on behalf of our cooperative.
Now, I’d love to visit more with you about perspective, but I’m spending the rest of the morning replacing the goldenrod (black eyed Susans) photo on every piece of promotional material on which it has appeared.
We were recently approached by a community member who works with Bulldogs Helping Bulldogs, which is a group comprised of the 5 local Centerville Churches. Prior to the pandemic, the churches were starting a cooperative focused on helping fund after school tutoring for families who could not afford it and to pay off lunch debt for students so they could continue to receive school lunches. When schools closed, they refocused their efforts to feeding students in need.
The Centerville school system received approval to provide 10 meals a week through May 20th. They continue to work alongside schools to provide supplemental food during this school break and now provide fresh and pantry foods one time a week to cover the 11 meals per week not covered by the school.
The need for food has grown weekly and in order to provide supplemental food to over 400 students, their recent cost was approximately $1500. This money purchased fresh and pantry food from Gleaners food bank in Indianapolis. As long as hungry students come to the distributions, they hope to continue to provide them with food through this time of crisis, but they’re running out of funds.
Harvest Land partnered with Land O’Lakes to contribute $1,500 towards Bulldogs Helping Bulldogs so these students could continue to receive meals for another week. As a farmer-owned co-op, we’re awfully passionate about feeding people, especially those in our hometowns.
If you want to learn more about the Bulldogs Helping Bulldogs program or to make a donation to ensure a meal for a child, we invite you to visit their Facebook page.
We’re operating with many unknowns in the world today, but one thing we believe strongly in is that no child should go hungry. We’re proud to partner with Land O’Lakes and Bulldogs Helping Bulldogs during this time to cultivate communities and keep kids fed.
Our 2019 annual report was titled, “Unprecedented” and throughout the publication, we
told the story of how the year was unlike any before, because of a 100-year weather event.
We might want to use that title again for 2020.
While this is being written, our teams are running full bore to get seed to planters, fertilizer is being spread, burn down is taking off; all of this is being done to support farmers who are taking advantage of a few warm, dry days. Our work is essential, and it continues.
But we’re not blind to the fact that there is a special group of people who are adjusting to a new normal brought to us by COVID-19.
Hey, Class of 2020: We see you.
You’re disappointed because all the milestone events in your final year of high school are likely not going to happen.
No prom, FFA banquet where you pass the gavel, or senior awards program. No last time hearing your name announced on the baseball field or final dash around the track. Even county and state fairs hang in the balance. The rite of passage events that everyone else has experienced for generations are being sacrificed for safety and that is what makes this catastrophic event so heartbreaking for the Class of 2020.
Hey, Class of 2020: We see you.
You’re lacking closure.
You’re lacking closure because one day you left the high school excited about an early spring break and expected to return. You expected to still have the opportunity to say goodbye to your favorite teachers, your FFA advisor, your old bus driver and the counselor that helped you complete approximately 99 scholarship applications. You didn’t clean out your locker, or turn in that senior English assignment that was to determine your final grade. You didn’t say goodbye to anyone or anything. You didn’t stand in the shop, the library or the gym one last time and take in that smell of a special place where you spent so many hours. Chapter 12, the very final chapter, of your favorite book has been ripped out and you’ll never get the ending you envisioned in your head.
Hey, Class of 2020: We see you.
You’re feeling anxious.
Oh, we understand that feeling. This global event has left each of us with more questions than answers. We, too, wish we knew when it was going to be over and life could go back to normal. But remember, you’re used to chaos. In fact, you’ve always grown in chaos. You were born into an unstable world right after September 11, 2001, and in a few months, you’ll move out into another one. New classes, new buildings, new teachers, jobs, friends, advisors, trade school, responsibilities, and schedules.
You’ve got this. You’re going to do great.
We strangely feel the disappointment right along with you, as we know how important this year of life is. In fact, one of our favorite parts of spring is attending many senior
awards programs and giving scholarships to some awfully deserving ag kids. We’re going to miss saying, “Congratulations” and shaking those hard-working hands this spring; the certificates will have to be mailed.
Hey, Class of 2020: Your graduation, season-ending game, last state FFA contest or final week of high school may look different, but we see you. And by the way, we see your parents and grandparents during this time, too.
From a local business embedded in dozens of rural communities, we’ve watched you
grow from ornery, curious toddlers who would ask a lot of questions, to awkward pre-teens who ate all of our popcorn at the ag centers and today you’re confident and capable. We’re proud of all you’ve done and all you will go on to do. Do not let this unpredicted turn of events put out that fire for the future that you feel right now.
Let it burn. Keep it bright. Charge ahead.
We say with great confidence that the best is yet to come.
We’re swimming in uncharted waters, and that statement has absolutely nothing to do with the water standing in the basement of many farmhouses in the area due to the incessant rain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down schools, national tournaments, universities,
restaurants, businesses, airlines, libraries and so much more. The financial loss that will
affect nearly every American due to this outbreak could linger for years. And to think, two weeks ago, it seemed to be something only taking place on the other side of the world.
On Tuesday of this week, the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed at the local hospital and immediately level two travel watch was enforced. Level two means that conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. During a “watch” local travel advisory, only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended, and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations.
Our leadership team had a long and impassioned conversation regarding our business operations during this extremely fluid time.
The safety of our employees.
How symptoms look or feel.
Addressing customer needs during a time of social distancing, a phrase that we’d never heard of seven days ago.
How we take care of business, by taking care of people.
We realized with great certainty: Our work is essential.
When a fuel driver shows up in the morning and loads his truck, he’ll spend the day delivering to tanks that will fill fire trucks, law enforcement vehicles, and semis that will deliver fresh produce or boxed pasta to Kroger.
Our work is essential.
When a propane driver comes to work and maps his route for the day, he delivers propane to nursing homes, rural churches, houses on 700 W. that are full of e-learning children and tired parents, and he also fills the tank at the hospital so the generator is operational. Then he goes north and supplies propane to the temperature-controlled hog finishing barns with 1,000 head inside.
Our work is essential.
When a truck driver loads his semi full of corn and departs the ag center, he is delivering corn to pet food factories so beloved dogs can have food available in a few months. He also delivers feed to turkey farmers who will supply Thanksgiving birds, pork producers who are currently feeding out hogs that will be become the next great plate of bacon and also beef producers who will put hamburgers on the grill over Labor Day weekend.
Our work is essential.
When a YieldPro Specialist drives down the lane of a 100-year-old farmstead and sits at the kitchen table with a grower, he is working with her to map out plans for fertilizer, field work, seed, seed treatment, starter fertilizer, pre-emergence, dormant spray and beyond so that her farm family can supply the food chain and feed the world.
Our work is essential.
When our IT team shows up to Richmond and enters a room full of wires, technology and computers, they serve as internal problem solvers that ensure farmer-members can pay their bills online during a quarantine, problem solvers that keep phone lines operational to take calls at one of our 40 locations or problem solvers that fix a dispatch glitch in an applicator machine trying to get fungicide on several fields.
Our work is essential.
When our support staff team shows up to the ag center or office and situates themselves in front of the computer, they’re about to take on a day of processing payments so a family can get propane again in April, paying our bills so the lights stay on here for our continued work and even ensuring our 300 employees get paid at the end of the month.
Our work is essential.
We are not entertainment (though employees’ laughter could argue otherwise on certain days with co-workers at the co-op).
We are essential.
And we’ll remain operational, working for your family and ours, as long as we’re able.
We are a business that supports the consumer at every angle, and it is a privilege to carry such heavy weight on our shoulders that so many depend on us. We thank you for that opportunity.
Together, we have experienced adversity as an industry, as a nation, and as a world. More importantly, we have always navigated through it – and we will, again.
Thank you for making our daily work essential.
You can read more about our commitment to safety here.
We received 68 nominations from Harvest Land customers and employees nominating their peers in 2019 for our Salute to Service program. This was an amazing response to a simple ask!
This week we wanted to share with you the nomination that took home second place. We’re proud of the work this team – because it took everyone! – did in the community during a time of great need. Read on:
We are nominating Allen Bollenbacher and his entire team at the Bryant location. In the spring of 2019, a tornado touched down on the Blackford/Wells county line north of Montpelier. The tornado ran straight east up the county line impacting farm after farm for 5 miles. The tornado struck at night and everyone along the road awoke to a heartbreaking scene of destruction. Luckily only a few suffered building damage, but trees everywhere were broken and lain flat. Not long after daylight, Allen and several employees from the Bryant Coop showed up at our farm. The cleanup was overwhelming and took our family days to finish. What Allen and his team did that first day made it possible to get out of the driveway and move about the farm to care for livestock and repair fence. The most impressive thing though, is what they did when they left us. Allen and his team worked their way east down the county line helping a long string of my neighbors in the same way. I have heard from several that the help was greatly appreciated. We all need to remember to help one another and to demonstrate that kindness and compassion beyond our familiar circle of family and friends. No doubt Allen and his crew first showed up to help our family. For years, we’ve worked together with the folks at HarvestLand Bryant to improve our farm operation, but we weren’t customers that morning. We were just folks that needed a hand. Allen and his team proved that as they worked their way east helping out my neighbors all along the way.
Submitted by John & Michael Maddox
Thank you, Allen and the entire Bryant team, for doing the right thing on behalf of our cooperative. Your service to the community made a difference in the lives of many!
The Salute to Service program started over again in January. If you encounter a wonderful experience with a Harvest Land employee, we encourage you to shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our CEO, Scott Logue, at 765.962.1527.
Because it was in 1930 that the first diesel engine automobile trip was completed (Indianapolis to New York City) by Clessie Cummins, founder of the Cummins Motor Company.
And in 1930, Hostess Twinkies were invented.
But perhaps our favorite fact is that, in our east-central Indiana area, the Articles of Incorporation for the Wayne County Farm Bureau Cooperative Association, Inc. were signed and notarized on March 12, 1930.
Meaning, Harvest Land Co-op will turn 90 years old on March 12.
We’ve changed a lot in that time! We are no longer a resource for seed potatoes, lumber or even poultry.
Today, we’ve evolved to meet our farmer-owners’ needs, and those have certainly changed over time. Technology, demand, family dynamics, weather trends, markets and beyond have each been factors of our longevity and our story.
In ninety years, we’ve also joined forces with 18 other cooperatives in our trade area to better serve the members.
Much changes in ninety years, but our commitment to the cooperative spirit remains unwavering. We thank you and your family for the partnership you’ve shown us over the last ninety years.
We would not be here had a group of farmers not wanted to find a better way to do business, together. And we’ll only remain strong – and around for another ninety years! – because of our farmer-members.
It doesn’t matter if a student is going to college to study agronomy, diesel mechanics, agriculture education, food science or veterinary medicine: every penny counts when it comes to paying for higher education.
That is why Harvest Land has committed to awarding $1,000 scholarships to 2020 high school graduates who are going on to study agriculture in college.
To be eligible for this scholarship, the student must:
be a high school senior entering a post-high school agricultural program
be involved in agriculture in their local community
and live or attend school in Harvest Land Co-op’s market area.
These scholarships will focus on need and leadership potential of future contributors to the agricultural industry. You can access the scholarship application here.
Questions can be directed to Lindsay Sankey at 765.967.7539.
We invite you to share this information with a graduating senior who plans on studying agriculture after high school. The future of our agriculture industry is exciting, and we want to help the youth in our communities get there.