Summer Harvest Supper

Harvest Land farmer-members recently attended a Summer Harvest Supper, hosted on the family farm of one of our members. The intent of this supper, organized by Farm Bureau, was to invite consumers to share a meal with local producers and open the evening to conversation about food production.

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The evening began with a brief reception with wine from  J&J Winery and vegetables – and the best candied bacon you could imagine –  from local growers and pork producers.

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Each supper table was set for six consumers and two producers. The producers consisted of dairymen, beef, poultry and swine producers, grain farmers, large animal veterinarians, extension agents, and fruit and vegetable growers. Harvest Land was well represented, having farmer-members, an employee and even a former Director serving as experts in food production.

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The consumers included a wide array of people, including college students, business owners, school superintendents, bankers, the Chamber of Commerce, real estate agents, medical doctors and more.

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The setting of the event was perfect, in the yard of the farmstead, next to a cornfield lined with sweet corn, which the attendees shared during the family-style supper.

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Everything enjoyed during the supper was grown and prepared locally. Sweet corn, green beans, beef, honey, bacon and more.

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Each table had a set of prepared questions, should the consumers not know what to ask in order to learn more about where their food comes from. Our experience was that no one needed those prompting questions! The consumers came with questions and concerns about various things, such as raw milk, pesticides, what to look for at the meat counter to have a great beef eating experience, confined feeding operations and much, much more.

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Every twenty minutes the two producers would rotate to the next table, giving the consumers the opportunity to ask the experts in many different areas – dairy, pork, beef, grain, vegetables, etc.

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Local FFA chapters from Western Wayne, Hagerstown and Northeastern joined us to serve the dishes and deliver drinks in an efficient manor.

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The Summer Harvest Supper was a success and a very enjoyable evening. Some indicators of success at an event such as this are having a consumer approach you after the event and simply say, “Thank you for tonight. I feel so much better about grocery shopping for my family.” Or, “I’m not afraid of milk anymore!”. The event allowed people to put a friendly face with the idea of food production.

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We’d like to thank Neil and LuAnn Gettinger for opening their farm to a large group of curious folks. Everyday those involved in food production are faced with a general public which is largely misinformed about where their food comes from and how it is produced. This event helped farmers educate consumers on the safest, most abundant food supply in the world: Ours.

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To the Class of 2017

The open houses are winding down, senior awards programs are over and the lockers have been officially emptied out.

Another school year is over.

This spring we awarded thirteen outstanding high school seniors with a $1,000 scholarship to aid in their college expenses. These very deserving students are pursuing post-high school agricultural degrees. They are, in fact, the future of agriculture. And a bright future, it is: Agricultural engineers, economists and communicators, veterinarians,  diesel technicians, plant geneticists and more….the list of dream jobs coming out of this bunch is very promising. We also recognize employees’ children who graduated this spring and are pursuing post-high school education. From Indianapolis east to Dayton and Ft. Wayne south to Cincinnati, students from all over Harvest Land’s trade market are chosen annually.

Congratulations to our 2017 recipients:

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You have a lot of change ahead of you! New classes, courses, instructors, living spaces, friends, supper spots, responsibilities and choices. If we could offer you just one piece of advice, it would be this:

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You are about to enter a new world that is filled with daily choices that will set you on the path towards a future with promise. We hope that each day, while you recognize opportunities to blaze your own trail, you’ll be true to yourself.

Have confidence in yourself and who you are. Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t forget where you came from or how you were raised. Choose your words words wisely. Spend your time with intent. Do the things that matter to you. Surround yourself with people that strengthen you. Trust your gut. Be true to yourself.

We wish every graduate of the class of 2017
the absolute best as they leave high school and enter
college, trade school or the work force.
Your story is just beginning!

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Cultivating Communities: Hancock County Safety Day

Hancock County Farm Bureau is the proud sponsor of the 2017 Safety Day for youth enrolled in 4-H programs in Hancock County. Annually the Farm Bureau works with local police and fire departments, EMTs and local businesses to come up with relevant safety topics for area youth.

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Participants rotate through stations and are given materials to take back to share with their local 4-H Clubs.

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Harvest Land employees were happy to spend their Saturday at this event, as it allows us to cultivate safety education in the communities in which we live and serve.

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2017 presenters included:

Harvest Land – Julie Lamberson – Grain Safety

Greenfield Fire Department – Fire Extinguisher Safety

Hancock Regional Hospital – Linda Garriety – Safe Sitter Program

Smith Implements – Mower and ATV Safety

Harvest Land & Fayette County Honor Society – Earth Day & Recycling Safety

Purdue Extension – Megan Addison – Food safety

We appreciate any invitation to educate the youth in our area,

especially when it comes to safety in agriculture.
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After all, these are the faces of our future.

Were You Hired To Do That?

A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.

His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were

  • a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
  • a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
  • the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)

I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.

It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.

One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.

One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.

One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.

All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.

All three never turned down a job.
  • Sweeping the shop floor
  • Answering phones
  • Tying feed sacks
  • Mixing chemicals
  • Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
  • Washing trucks
  • Delivering meals to the field
  • Cleaning up after meetings or guests
  • Taking out the trash
  • Sweeping out bins
  • Working in the pit
  • Loading trucks with bagged feed
  • Painting tanks
  • Making parts runs
  • And more

These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.

“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”

What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?

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What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.

Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.

But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way. 

work bootsWe believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.

Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.

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We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.

And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.

Two Hours To Save A Life

Our cooperative business has been around for nearly a century. In that time we’ve seen communities expand, infrastructure develop, technology evolve and most importantly, families grow.

Every generation we work with is different, none better or worse, just different. Each has varying experiences, challenges and opportunities. Something that doesn’t change from generation to generation is the desire for the family farm to be passed on. Each grower we work with is making decisions today that will affect the longevity and success of the family farm, to be handed down to the next, special generation.

Harvest Land is also making decisions today to ensure the next generation is prepared to take the reins when it’s time.

On April 1 we’re hosting a free grain safety youth workshop for ages 10-16. This workshop will have a hands-on live entrapment demonstration portion as well as a classroom session. The event will take two hours and we’re hosting two on the same day; from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Attendees may choose which session they’d like to attend.

Two hours. That’s the brief amount of time this workshop will take, but the lessons learned from it could one day save a life. Two hours to save a life of someone quite special.

We invite you to share this link and invitation to those in our trade territory, ages 10 – 16, who might find this training valuable.

We are committed to doing our part to ensure
that the family farm is around for the next generation,
and that the next generation is around for the family farm.

2017 Grain Safety Youth Workshop

The WinField Crop Adventure

Growing up there was one phrase, comprised of only two words, which if spoken was sure to land you in a bad place.

“I’m bored.”

This brief declaration was usually followed by this powerful response: “Oh, I can fix that.”

Mom and Dad were always good for their word.

Picking up sticks or nails, hauling manure via wheelbarrow, sorting the recycling and smashing aluminum cans with a homemade steel tamper, stacking wood, pushing rocks up hills. The list of boredom-prevention exercises goes on and on. One summer morning I recall the hay tedder broke down and we actually tedded an entire hayfield by pitchfork. That was a fun day. A hot one, too.

I never looked at boredom the same way again.

Summer is in full swing and soon – believe it or not – the county fairs will be over and families will have a bit more free time to do some traveling. Ten days at Disney World livestock free, you ask?

Not likely.

However, there is a place that just opened that might feel a little like Disney World to a kid involved in agriculture.

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The Winfield Crop Adventure has officially opened at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana. This hands-on exhibit is designed to fully engage participants in understanding exactly what it takes to grow food for a population growing quickly to 9 billion people. It’s very likely that the kids in your family “get it”, but this state-of-the-art exhibit is sure to educate and impress even the most seasoned agriculturalists. Yourself, included.

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What can you experience?

  • Meet the farmers who grow your food.
  • Burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots.
  • See and touch the high-tech tools farmer use.
  • Catch virtual raindrops.
  • Imagine the future of modern farming.
  • Discover how corn, soy and wheat improve our lives.
  • Take your picture with your favorite bugs.
  • Learn what soil doctors do.
  • Find the right ag career for you.

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So pack up the kids, or grandkids, or the annoying neighbor kids who have absolutely no idea about food production, and head to Fair Oaks Farms to visit the new Winfield Crop Adventure. Teach everyone a thing or five while getting out of your home area and combatting the “I’m bored” scenario.

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Check out all Fair Oaks Adventures

Oh, and might we suggest a place for dinner on your way home? Culver’s has a fantastic partnership with America’s farmers and they’re actively working to help us tell our story. I highly recommend the double butter burger with fries and a vanilla snickers concrete mixer for dessert, but that may just be the boredom talking.

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