Spring has officially sprung! The first day of spring marks National Ag Day, which began in 1973 to help Americans understand the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products, as well as in maintaining a strong economy.
The theme for this year’s Ag Week celebration is “Agriculture: Food for Life,” which is fitting since those of us engaged in agriculture and agribusiness are responsible for growing and producing what each person needs for daily living: food, clothing and shelter. In addition, agriculturists get the credit for golf courses and grass turf used for sports like soccer and football. Through science, innovation and caring hands, a seed was the start of all these things that contribute to our quality of life!
One of the things I enjoy most about Ag Week is watching what others in our industry are doing to celebrate and advocate. Agronomist Karen Corrigan (@weedgirl24 on Twitter) put together Ag Bags for each student in her daughter’s preschool class to take home on National Ag Day. Each bag included a beef stick from Clint & Sons; the company donated one stick for each one that Corrigan purchased. Each bag also included ag mags, coloring books and soybean crayons donated by the Tazwell (Illinois) County Farm Bureau. In addition, Corrigan gave a bag full of books to the two preschool teachers.
“My daughter’s teachers mentioned they were having a hard time finding materials to teach kids where food comes from, so I made it a point to find them resources for their nutrition unit,” says Corrigan.
Corrigan’s unique Ag Day celebration inspired Pam Smith, who is crops technology editor for DTN/The Progressive Farmer magazine, to fill a “little free library” with agriculture-related books. Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
“The idea of the little free library is to ‘take a book, return a book’,” explains Smith. “The only thing better than finding a book that touches your heartstrings is to share that joy with someone else.”
What I love about Smith’s little library is its unique barn shape. The barn shape is fitting for Smith, who as a child, snuck into the barn loft to read books.
“My husband and I were on a bicycling trip in Ohio and started noticing what looked like very fancy or interesting mail boxes. We finally stopped to check them out and realized they were little libraries. I was smitten,” says Smith. “About five years ago, my husband surprised me by giving me this barn-shaped little free library as a Christmas gift.”
Now these ladies have me thinking about what difference I can make in my own community to help residents better understand agriculture. Although we live in a rural community, we can’t take it for granted that everyone understands farming and food production. I know Iowa’s commodity groups have done a great job of producing children’s books, so I plan to stock little free libraries in Latimer and Hampton with children’s books that tell stories about farmers who raise the corn, soybean and forage crops that are fed to cattle, pigs, turkeys, chickens and other animals.
In honor of the hardworking men and women who care for land and livestock, today we’re featuring a recipe for the Ultimate Pork Breakfast Burgers. It really could be called the Ultimate Farmer’s Breakfast as it includes something from every food group including burger, bacon, eggs and cheese plus onions and peppers served on a sweet Hawaiian bun. Thinking about it is enough to make one’s mouth water!