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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Faith & Farming

Faith and Farming: they go hand and hand:

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Some days, doesn’t it feel as though it began raining on Easter and hasn’t quit? While the naive mind might like to believe that farmers across the corn belt are putting in ponds as part of some water retention conservation project, you and I both know that just isn’t the case. You can drive through the countryside and see standing water in every direction.

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Rather than driving around the township with their best co-pilot and a steady dose of optimism, checking growth in the warm May sunshine, most growers in our area are riding around with the insurance adjuster looking at corn that has already been replanted or will be.

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Writer Lisa TerKeurst once wrote that “The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field. And often it’s a place where disappointment grows.” How true that is, and what fitting words when thinking of our 2017 planting season. Even when the field is flooded, the disappointment is able to grow within the rows.  I heard one farmer say that he didn’t even want to leave the house in the morning because he knew disappointment would greet his first step out the door.

You can’t blame him; it’s been a soggy and frustrating spring.

But you can’t lose faith, either.

I’ve often heard that God gives the toughest battles to His strongest soldiers but I believe there is more to that; although those in agriculture are certainly of resilient stock! I think God gives these times of disappointment to the ones who can be of example on how to stay the course amidst the frustration. He uses them as an example to others.

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I don’t know a farmer who plans on not planting in 2017 because of the amount of rain and cold air we’ve endured. I don’t know a farmer who has decided to sit this year out of farming. I don’t know a farmer who intends on selling farm because of 8 inches of rain.

The farmers we know are changing their course of action, recalculating their assumptions and adapting to the situation. The farmers we know are waiting it out and attending 6th grade graduations and dance recitals in the mean time. The farmers we know are trying really hard to exercise the patience their parents worked to instill in them.

Because the farmers we know
learned a long time ago that
faith and farming go hand and hand.

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Ye of Little Praise

 

There are a lot of variables in businesses such as our’s. We have many different divisions, span hundreds of miles, employ 300+ people, each with different skill sets and responsibilities, and work daily among thousands of moving parts. Oh, and we’re usually running short on time, too.

In our nearly 100 years of business we’ve learned from time to time that if you’re not careful and attentive to details, things can go awry quickly. It is usually in those rare instances that we hear from our farmer-members, as we should. We appreciate the feedback; it makes us better.

Farmers may be considered “ye of little praise” (not to be confused with ye of little faith; there is no greater demonstration of faith than a man planting seeds in a field; but perhaps that is a blog for another week) because they just weren’t brought up that way. In agriculture there are very few pats on the back, few words of encouragement and absolutely no participation trophies. Often the “praise” received comes in the form of a grain check or a milk check, and it’s only then that you know that you’re doing something right.

Though every once in a great while, farmers send written words of encouragement or praise. And those are the ones that you hang onto.

Our CEO received a personally addressed letter on this desk back in February. Of course, though he might be considered one of those ye of little praise, he appreciated the words tremendously and hung on to the note of praise. Fast forward more than two months later and he thought it appropriate to share.



Dear Scott, 

We intended to send you this note at the end of harvest last fall, and here it is the middle of February. 

We were very pleased with the fertilizer application and custom spraying that the College Corner branch provided during the 2016 growing season. It was obvious that Dave Norris and the operators of the sprayers and spreaders were focused on doing a good job instead of covering the most acres in the least amount of time. Bill Curry (who did most of the harvesting) said, “You can tell they took extra care to spray the perimeters of all the fields and were careful of the waterways, too.”

So, we just wanted to let yo know we appreciated their good work and we look forward to their help in the fast approaching growing season. 

Sincerely, 

It was signed by the land owner and the farmer. 

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Despite what the evening news, price at the pump or markets tell you, there is a lot of good going on around us. There are people doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

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Photo by applicator Dave Barbee at our Lena Ag Center

This week we encourage you to refrain from being “ye of little praise” and offer encouragement or sincere thanks to someone around you who deserves it.

Your words may be brief but their impact could be enduring.

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Photo Friday: Fueling Freedom

Four of our Harvest Land energy locations participated in a successful 2016 Fueling Freedom event on June 24, and that success was thanks to each of you who stopped by and filled your tanks.

Our Elwood, Connersville, Greenfield and Greenville, OH fuel stations were part of CountryMark’s event, which, for every gallon of fuel pumped between noon and 5:00 PM CountryMark and Harvest Land donated 50 cents to the local National Guard.

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100% of the proceeds from Fueling Freedom went on to support local National Guard Family Readiness Groups.

Family Readiness Groups fund activities for troops and their families. Many of the Family Readiness Groups use their funds to host summer picnics, hold Christmas dinners, send packages to deployed soldiers, and offer after-school programs for children of American soldiers.

Today we simply wanted to share with you photos from our locations and thank all of the hard working people who made the event a success. Until next year!

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Three Words of Advice to the Class of 2016

The oversized gowns are hung in closets never to be worn again and the caps have been tossed.

Last weekend we finally awarded our last 2016 Harvest Land Co-op Scholarship. This spring twenty outstanding high school graduates were granted $1,000 scholarships on behalf of our farmer-owned cooperative.

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: Agriculture teachers, economists, animal chiropractors, nutritionists, veterinarians, broadcasters….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.

And the winners are…

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We wish the very best to each of these students as they leave behind the halls of the high schools where they’ve spent so many days and charge ahead into the next chapter. We just know they’ll shine.

Before these twenty up-and-comers leave their townships and move on into the world, we thought now might be a good time to give them just three quick bits of advice, on the occasion of their high school graduation.

We aren’t guaranteeing this advice will ensure Dean’s List status (sorry, parents), but we are certain it won’t hurt you.

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Be Punctual

Signing up for 4-H before the deadline.

Getting the corn planted in a short window of time.

Spraying before the rain comes but when the wind is just right.

Submitting your FFA SAE project on time.

Making hay while the sun shines, literally.

Cutting beans when moisture is right.

Selling when the market is high.

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Up to this point, your life in agriculture has been incredibly time dependent. You’ve seen first hand the importance of carrying out certain tasks in a timely manor and being quite intentional on timing.

Now – more than ever – it is important that you stay on time.

Class starts every day at a very specific time. It won’t wait on you.

Your professor starts teaching every day at a very specific time. They won’t wait on you.

Work starts every day at a very specific time. It won’t wait on you.

Be punctual.

Remember, in higher education and in agriculture, your being on time is quite important and affects so much around you. Don’t waste anyone’s time, especially your own. Be punctual.

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Introduce Yourself

Maybe you came from a tiny town, maybe you came from the suburbs. Maybe you hail from a class of 52, maybe you’re one of 328 graduates in your class. No matter where you’re coming from, you are about to enter a whole new world with thousands in the exact same boat as you: a freshman in college.

A new world.

A new place.

A new schedule.

A new set of classmates, friends and people that will feel more like family in a year.

Don’t forget to introduce yourself. To everyone.

Introduce yourself to every professor you have; they will sure be happy to put a face with a name and they won’t forget you.

Introduce yourself to the person standing behind you in line for the washing machine. You’re both probably missing your mother at that exact same time.

Introduce yourself to those strangers you happen to sit next to in class. They’ll become your study partners, source of explanations when you just don’t get it and the ones you’ll say “Merry Christmas!” to before driving home for a long Christmas break.

It matters not how big the class or campus is: No one knows the story within you. Make sure you tell it. Introduce yourself.

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Call Your Parents

This is important. I’m serious.

You may be going off to school three time zones away or staying at home and attending a community college. You may see your parents once at Christmas or every evening when you get home. Whatever your circumstance, don’t forget to communicate with your parents.

Call them.

Text them.

Send them a birthday card.

Tell them good morning.

Because while your life is taking off in a million different, exciting directions, and every day is a new adventure to you, they’re probably at home worried, wondering if you remembered to pack your umbrella.

One day you’ll understand.

Call your parents.

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Congratulations to each of our scholarship recipients,
but also to the entire Class of 2016.
We wish you the absolute best as you
continue to work towards each one of your goals.

Mark Your Calendar: Fueling Freedom

We invite you to run your gas tanks as low as you possbily can then cruise/roll into one of the following CountryMark stations on Friday, June 24 from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM for our Fueling Freedom event.

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Our Elwood, Connersville, Greenfield and Greenville, OH fuel stations are all particiapting locations for CountryMark’s 2016 Fueling Freedom event, which, for every gallon of fuel pumped during the event, CountryMark and Harvest Land will donate 50 cents to the local National Guard.

100% of the proceeds from Fueling Freedom will go to support local National Guard Family Readiness Groups.

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Family Readiness Groups fund activities for troops and their families. Many of the Family Readiness Groups use their funds to host summer picnics, hold Christmas dinners, send packages to deployed soldiers, and offer after-school programs for children of American soldiers. This is the eighth year the CountryMark system has hosted Fueling Freedom events. In 2015, CountryMark’s Fueling Freedom program, which includes many farmer-owned cooperatives, raised more than $54,000 for local National Guard Family Readiness Groups.

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We encourage everyone to come out for Fueling Freedom, purchase CountryMark TOP TIER gasoline and premium diesel fuel, and register to win a $150 fuel card. One fuel card will be given away at each CountryMark fueling station participating in Fueling Freedom.

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Harvest Land’s Fueling Freedom goal is to
sell $2,500 gallons per station and donate
$1,250 to our local National Guard Family Readiness Program.

We invite you to come fill your tanks on June 24th from 12:00 – 5:00 for Fueling Freedom and support those who sacrifice so much for us.

Share this information with family & friends!

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If Not For Their Sacrifice

Memorial Day weekend in America: the unofficial start to summer.

It’s easy to get swept away in the spirit of the season: the sizzle of the grill, seeing some kind of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of planting (we’re optimists) and watching really fast cars make consistent left hand turns for nearly three hours.

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It is so easy to get swept away in those things, in fact, that we forget what the three-day weekend is really about: Honoring men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. Memorial Day is about honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, our country and the lives we’re fortunate to live every day.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the chance to play with our grandkids on the big old oak that has stood on the family farm, more than 100 years.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have a choice. A choice when making our own purchasing decisions. A choice when selecting fertilizer. A choice when filling our diesel tanks or choosing what lubricants to use to ensure our operation continues to run like a well oiled machine. Most days. 

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the opportunity to proudly – and freely – wave the American flag over our grain bins, fence lines  and from our combines.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to sit in the same creaky pew that our great-grandmother did every Sunday for 87 years.

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If not for their sacrifice our kids wouldn’t be able to stand in front of their peers and freely explain to the class just what it means to grow up on a farm.

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If not for their sacrifice we woudn’t be able to proudly cheer for the old Black & Gold.

Or Scarlet & Grey.

Or Cream & Crimson.

Or whatever color combination you’re into.

Is it football season yet?

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the opportunity to write our letters to the editor in our small hometown newspaper – or even the Farm World – publically expressing our praises and concerns.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to attend parades on the main streets that serve as the backbone of our rural communities. We wouldn’t be able to march for causes we’re passionate about and throw candy to our neighbors and spend the day with our families celebrating the hometown spirit.

If not for their sacrifice our grandkids wouldn’t go to Vacation Bible School or Sunday School or proudly be a St. Mary’s Cub.

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The people we remember on Memorial Day weekend
wrote a blank check made payable to
“The United States of America”
for an amount of
“up to, and including his/her life.”
And the check was cashed.

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This Memorial Day weekend, join us in honoring the selfless fallen.

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Service In Action: Pack Away Hunger

Sometimes it’s good to remember that part of our fabric isn’t limited to corn, soybeans, diesel and propane.

The cooperative roots of service run deep and span miles throughout the communities in which we do business. Appropriately, of course, since our business is built on the cooperative spirit of helping one another reach a common goal.

Harvest Land believes in a culture which reflects the importance of service to others, and we created our Cultivating Communities program to allow that culture to thrive. Cultivating Communities encourages Harvest Land employees to volunteer eight service hours annually to organizations that align with her personal values.

Pack Away Hunger is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and others who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. It’s a group that our farmer-members and employees have become familiar with over the last three years, as we’ve partnered with local churches and FFA chapters to pack meals that went on to local food banks and also Mission Guatemala.

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In March twenty-three churches, nine FFA chapters, various community organizations and Harvest Land Co-op employees and farmer-members partnered for the 5th annual Pack Away Hunger event, which packaged 162,216 nutritious meals to be distributed. The meals went specifically to Gleaner’s, Midwest Food Bank and eleven more local community food pantries which will receive between 1,000 to 10,000 meals, depending on their size and the area they cover.

The meals, which more than seven hundred volunteers prepared over multiple shifts, were formulated to provide a rich source of easily digestible protein, carbohydrates and vitamins needed by a malnourished body. They consist of high-quality white rice, fortified soy, a blend of six dehydrated vegetables and twenty-one vitamins and minerals. They’re packaged in fourteen-ounce bags.

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Part of Harvest Land’s purpose is to do what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. We really cannot think of a better organization of which to partner to align with our cooperative’s purpose. We had several employees spend their Saturday at Pack Away Hunger, working towards a common goal to take care of one another. It’s what rural communities do, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

 

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But what happens after the Pack Away Hunger Event? After the bags are sealed and the trucks are loaded and the hair nets – beard nets for some Harvest Land employees – are tossed in the trash never to be seen again? How do those eight hours committed by our farmer-members and employees go on to serve others?

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Here is one example. You can see the local Western Wayne FFA chapter working at First Church in Hagerstown to distribute food during the monthly mobile food pantry. Part of this offering was food that we packaged at Pack Away Hunger.

And just last week we received these photos directly from Guatemala:

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The following were taken at ‘Tat Loy’ a drug and alcohol rehab center in San Lucas – Toliman. This particular location is a recipient of the rice meals that we packed for their residents. There are more than 72 individuals at the facility currently.

Right now the building is a two story building with a small deck on the roof but they are expanding the second story and building a full covered deck on the roof, which will become the third floor, to serve more occupants. In these photos they are building a frame around the a rebar column in advance of pouring a concrete column that will eventually support the upper floor.

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Pretty neat to see the familiar Harvest Land logo at work so far from home, huh?

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We thought it pretty special that the meals we packed one morning earlier this spring are not only feeding neighbors who may typically go without, but also the people of Guatemala  whom we’ll likely never have the opportunity to meet.

We’re doing what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. Sometimes, that includes hairnets, cups of rice and assembly lines rather than 16-row planters and seed tenders.

And we’re ok with that.

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Know Your Why

It is often asked in an introductory conversation. Maybe you’re on a flight, maybe you’re at a workshop, maybe you’re even signing your middle child up for kindergarten. I bet if you began visiting with someone and asked them what they did for a living, they’d have no trouble telling you.

Architect

Communications Specialist

Farmer

Daycare operator

Nurse

Loan Officer

The list could go on endlessly with the variety of careers on the market, and with each additional position, the person in that role could easily explain to you what they do. Even if they played a lot of different roles in the day (anyone out there a chauffeur, accountant, chef, therapist and farm hand – all in one day?). It’s their daily routine; if they’re lucky, it’s their passion, too.

What if you asked that same person how they did their job? Well, unless their work is highly classified, there is a great chance that they can explain that to you, too. They probably know the ins and outs of their position so well, they can explain their work in a 30-second synopsis. This likely won’t happen often on Between the Rows, but an Albert Einstein quote comes to mind when thinking about someone explaining how they do their daily work (for the record, moving forward we’re more likely to quote George Strait on any given Thursday than we are Einstein):

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But what if we went deeper?

What if you asked the question why?

Why do you do what you do?

That question may extend your conversation a bit, and I bet it would take the respondent a moment or two to think of their answer. Why do you do what you do?

For Harvest Land, that big question is easy to answer. We have no reservation in response, no worry in reaction. We know our purpose; we know our why.

 

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We have a moral obligation to couple the resources available to us and the spirit of generations of honest work so that we’re able to put food on the table for people we’ll never have the pleasure of meeting.

That is why we don’t hesitate to work the long, spring hours or the endless harvest days.

That is why we take safety seriously, in every situation.

That is why we navigate the changing agricultural climate, volatile markets and political landscape right along with you.

That is why our Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays sometimes run together.

That is why – to this day – we value the way our Granddads worked: planting trees, knowing that they’d never have the opportunity to enjoy the shade.

That is Harvest Land.

That is our why.

What is yours?