Friday, August 26, 2016

Foodie Friday: Why I Farm Roadtrip, May

I confess, I'm that girl that takes a photo of just about every meal and snack I've had so far on the Why I Farm Roadtrip. I love trying the local flavors and I don't want to forget all the unique experiences I've had in each state. Starting from the beginning, here's a look at the tastes of May.

One of the Why I Farm Roadtrip visits I had was with blueberry farmers from Michigan. The Bowerman family has a beautiful farm market full of doughnuts, pies and preserves. They sent this jar with me as a souvenir. I enjoyed it while I was staying with Jennifer Osterholt in Ohio. It was delicious!

Barbara Siemen of The Chick Wire still holds the record as one of the best cooks I've visited so far. When I arrived, she had fresh pastries, banana bread and cookies to share. My stomach is growling just looking at the pictures again! 

I tried to make Barbara's cookies last, but I'm afraid to admit how many I ate before I even left her county. They were the perfect balance of softness and chewiness.

When I visited Fort Wayne, Indiana, the lovely folks at the tourism bureau gave me tickets to "Summer Nights at the Embassy." There was a great band, and unique food and drinks for sale. This Mac & Cheese with pulled pork had a little kick to it and hit the spot after a long day of traveling.

Summer Nights at the Embassy was just the start of great food I had in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The next day, I went to Tolon, a newer restaurant in the area. My burger and homemade chips were fantastic. Advice: If you see something on the menu with bacon jam, order it. You won't be disappointed.

To wrap up a great visit to Fort Wayne, I was able to visit the Joseph Decuis farm and restaurant. This is by far the nicest restaurant I've been to while on the road. It was so fascinating to learn about the veggies, pork, and Wagyu beef that were part of my meal. To top it off, our fantastic waitress let me sample a few beers from a popular local brewery, Sun King. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo, but the Mangalista Cracklins' were great. Treat yourself to an order of those!

Early in the road trip I decided I needed to try a strawberry shake in every state. When I can't find a local place, Chick-fil-A is my go to. You can see the real strawberries and it doesn't taste syrupy. Mmm!

That's it for May's Foodie Friday! Check back next week to see a few of the yummy things I had in June. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Why I Farm Roadtrip in Maine

I recently visited Maine for the first time as part of the Why I Farm Roadtrip! On top of several great farm visits, there was so much scenery to take in. Here's a glimpse of my time in The Pine Tree State.

To keep up with the Maine farmers I met and to read their Why I Farm stories, head over to the Why I Farm Roadtrip blog. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Motivation: Why I Farm Roadtrip Week 15

It's Monday again already, which means another week of the Why I Farm Roadtrip is under my belt! I can't believe I'm starting week 15 today! As I get further into this experience, I get more and more excited to share the stories of the farmers and feed, fuel and clothe us all. Here are a few that have been especially meaningful to me this week.

Nebraska farmer: Shannon Peterson
“My husband and I have been married almost 18 years now. We are in a partnership with his brother and his mom. We the fourth generation on his family’s farm. The kids will hopefully be the fifth. I love the outdoors, I love the animals. Calving season is my ultimate favorite. It’s by far my busiest time of the year, little to no sleep seems like. My kids like to come and help tag, so that’s really fun when they jump on the four wheeler with me and go out and help me check cows. It’s fun to watch over the years, what they’ve grown to learn and know.” – Shannon Peterson of Gothenburg, Nebraska

Nebraska farmer: Chris Niemann
“I was coming home to help for harvest when it really hit me that if I stayed in Oklahoma City, Dad is not getting any younger. When he’s done, it would technically be my turn. But if I don’t want anything to do with it and I’ve never been home to learn anything, then I’m either going to send the fourth-generation farm into the ground or I’m going to sell it. I don’t want to that. Grandpa busted for it, Dad has busted for it. That’s when everything came together. There’s a lot of bullets to be sweat, a lot of tears to be shed, a lot of smiles to be had, and a lot of remotes to be thrown at TVs. Some days, I don’t know why we do it. But I do know I love it. After everything else I’ve done, I wouldn’t do anything else." – Chris Niemann of Dwight, Nebraska

Kentucky farmers: Hayden family
"Why I do this, honestly, is because of my mom and dad. I look at everything we have here and I see these people who worked their butts off. My dad was one of six kids. He grew up poor. And he worked really hard every day, not only to build his electric company but to build this farm. This wasn’t a farm that was handed down from generation to generation. He started it. Dan and I are the second generation on this piece of land. I watched him build it from the ground up. I remember when we had a couple milk cows and tobacco. Seeing everything that he did, that’s why. The passion he has for farming and agriculture, that only made the passion inside of me grow even more." – David Hayden of Hayden Farms in Philpot, KY (Pictured L-R: Martin, Daniel, David and Joan Hayden)

Nebraska farmer: Deb Gangwish
“We take care of our farm because if we don’t treat Mother Nature well, Mother Nature doesn’t take care of us. You have to honor what you have. There may be thousands of acres around here but to us, it’s our backyard. I never think of big fields as big fields; I think of them as pieces of the planet that we have to take care of or it’s not going to be around. Sometimes I think too much, but we’re just part of such a bigger picture.” - Deb Gangwish of PG Farms in Shelton, Nebraska

Click on the photos to read each farmer's original post. I hope their stories inspire you to enjoy the outdoors, step up to responsibility, appreciate your family, and look at the big picture this week. Happy Monday! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Why I Farm Roadtrip in Boston, Massachusetts

For the month of August, I've been traveling through New England. To start off the month, I flew into Boston for the AAEA Meetings and was reunited with some Iowa State Ag Business friends for a last hurrah of my Quiz Bowl Career. It was so great to spend a few days with familiar faces and take in a bit of our nation's history. Visiting places that had such an important role in the beginning of our country was very exciting. Here is a little glimpse of the interesting things I saw the city of Boston!

Photo credit: DeAnna Hanner

I wish I'd had time to do the whole Freedom Trail, but I enjoyed the parts I was able to see. Now I have a reason to go back! Stay tuned for more pictures and stories from New England. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Motivation: Why I Farm Roadtrip Week 14

I'm starting week 14 of this crazy, Why I Farm Roadtrip adventure, and I'm still overflowing with inspiration. There are so many great stories to be told, there hasn't even been a split second I've thought, "Why the heck am I out here? Why am I doing this?" I feel so blessed. I know there are a lot of people that can't say that about their jobs. Here are a few stories that have been especially touching to me this week.

Illinois farmer: Kent Blunier
“Three or four years ago, we had a tornado come through here. It threw the roof of a shed on top of another one. Between my place and Dad’s, we had 12 trees that went down, and two of them went right across my driveway. So, the next morning we got up, started cutting wood, and moving things. By noon, we had 15 people here. I never made a phone call. Dad never made a phone call. They just showed up.” - Kent Blunier of Forrest, IL

Massachusetts farmers: Laura, Lisa, and Angela
Laura, Lisa, and Angela are co-farmers at Sweetwater Farm and sell many of their products at the Petersham, Massachusetts Farmers' Market each week.

“Lisa and I were roommates in college. We were both looking for summer jobs. I was looking for jobs in theater and she was looking for jobs at a goat farm. We kept reading job descriptions to each other and I was like, ‘Wow, that just sounds so much cooler. I love the idea of living on a farm in Vermont and milking goats.’ After I did my summer internship at a theater, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I was really interested in my food and where it came from, so I started gardening with the school garden and switched my major to environmental studies. I went abroad and studied sustainability and really decided I wanted to be a farmer.” - Laura (left)

“I think it’s really exciting to grow your own food. I never get tired of it. Being self-sufficient is really satisfying. We’re growing flint corn and we can grind our own corn meal. Being able to make your own corn bread from your own corn meal is super awesome. It’s definitely a big part of why we do this crazy thing - farming.” - Lisa (center)

“Having living things that are your responsibility, the animals and the plants, is kind of like having a billion children. I know all these things are depending on me. Not to mention, the people that will be eating our food. Not doing your job is not an option. It’s not really a choice anymore to lounge around in bed on a Sunday morning when you know that the goat needs to be milked, the chickens need to go outside, it’s 90 degrees already and things are wilting. My biggest motivation is knowing it’s on me to make sure all these things are successful.” - Angela (right)

Massachusetts farmer: Karen and her daughter Victoria

“I came from New Zealand, but my husband is American. I moved to this state 20 years ago. I’ve always grown vegetables. I started with a small garden, grew lots of stuff, and gave it to a lot of friends. They said, ‘Wow! This is great! You should sell it.’ So I started at markets and got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Even when my daughter was little, we still had to keep doing it, so she just got carted along. It means I can stay home and be my own boss and grow good food for myself and my family. We preserve a lot that we eat off season. The surplus I share with other people.” - Karen of Kiwi Meadow Farm

Click on the photos to read each farmer's original post. I hope their stories inspire you to help your neighbors, try something new, and find what you love this week. Also, in celebration of last week's National Farmers Market Week (I met several of these farmers at the farmers market) meet a farmer in your neighborhood by visiting a market near you. Happy Monday! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Why I Farm Roadtrip in Nebraska

For my first Why I Farm Roadtrip stops west of Iowa, I headed to Nebraska! I had a wonderful visit and confirmed "Nebraska Nice" is a very real thing. As usual, here's this week's Wordless Wednesday post with a peek at my time in the "Cornhusker State".

Photo credit: Jesse Harding

To keep up with the Nebraska farmers I met and to read their Why I Farm stories, head over to the Why I Farm Roadtrip blog. Also, be sure to check out this radio interview I did with Jesse Harding! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

7 Must Pack Roadtrip Items

I've been living on the road for Why I Farm Roadtrip over two and a half months. When you're spending every night in a different place, you learn pretty fast. I'm done making rookie mistakes. Now that I'm well on my way to becoming a 50 stater, I've learned less is more when it comes to packing. But, there are a few things I won't travel without. Here are seven items that always make the cut.

1. Good sunglasses - For the longest time I carried around a bunch of cheap sunglasses I got for free from events I went to in college. Bad choice. They work, but they're broken or scratched when you dig for them at the bottom of your bag and they fall off when bend over. When space is at a premium, I can't afford to waste it on 7 pairs of flimsy, scratched up sunglasses. Finally, I upgraded to an decent pair at TJ Maxx. I only spent 10 bucks, and it was so worth it. They stay on my face and have held up to the abuse of my on the go lifestyle.

2. Chacos - Chacos sent me a pair of Z/2 Classics with Pixel Weave webbings a few weeks into the Why I Farm Roadtrip. Unfortunately, they came when I was already on the road. It took every ounce of patience I had to wait for July 15 when I could pick them up. Since I got them, they've been my go to shoe every single day. (And they don't even stink!) I put them to the test walking several miles around Boston and exploring fairs around the country. I can wear them all day long and my feet never hurt. Especially in the summer, my feet get tired of the boots I wear on farm visits. My Chacos let them breathe without sacrificing support like the flip flops I used to wear. For the cherry on top, I can wear them with cute capris if I'm headed to an event, but they don't look weird when I'm running errands in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Get yourself some Chacos.

3. Durable phone case - These days, your smartphone is the MVP of a road trip. It's your GPS, camera, and means of communication. Take care of it. From the start, I knew I would be in a world of hurt if something happened to my phone, so I made sure I had a good phone case. My Otterbox and glass screen protector have survived over 20,000 miles of my butterfingers and they're still going strong.

4. Smart luggage - This is one more thing I'm glad I did my research on before I packed. You can check out my packing posts for more details, but I thought through every bag or container that's been on this trip. When I'm driving my own car, my wardrobe is in drawers. All I take into a hotel or house is a backpack with toiletries and a change of clothes. When I fly, everything besides my purse fits in two roller bags. (One checked, one carry on.) Put bags in bags to stay organized. My Lowepro backpack holds every cord, battery and memory storage imaginable plus my laptop, audio recorder and camera. Grab that bag and I'm set for an interview or productive afternoon in Starbucks. Since I'm traveling alone, it's important that I'm able to carry everything by myself in one trip.

5. Plenty of pens - Even with all of today's technology, we still use pens more than you'll realize - until you don't have one. They don't take up much space so stash a few in your glove box, purse, and backpack for the next time you need to take down a phone number or address.

6. Cheap flip flops - If you're roadtripping on a budget like me, chances are you'll be catching a shower or two at a gym, truck stop or camp ground. Many of these are surprisingly clean, but they're still a public shower. No matter how clean they look, I always wear flip flops. The cheap ones from Old Navy have been my go to for years.

7. Baseball cap - Let's face it, there's not the time or place to do your hair when you're on the road. Thank goodness there's baseball caps. Pack a neutral colored one for those bad hair days. They're great for a little shade too.

You can find the specific products I've packed, or similar, on the pages I've linked. Happy packing! Thanks for reading!

Disclosure: I was provided a pair of Chacos sandals for the purposes of this review, no further compensation was received. All opinions on this blog are honest and my own.