Monday, October 24, 2016

Motivation Monday: Why I Farm Roadtrip Week 25

Wow! Another week of the Why I Farm Roadtrip is in the books. I look forward to what adventures await in week 25. Along the way, I'm keeping these farmers' stories tucked in the back of my mind for inspiration. I hope you find them as motivating as I have.

Connecticut farmer: Rachel Freund
“It’s what I know. I grew up with this lifestyle. I can’t imagine a life without cows in the background. I farm to stay connected with animals. I’m a very huge animal lover. The work isn’t always cuddly, but we still provide them with the right environment and quality care. They do right by you if you do right by them.” - Rachel Freund of Freund's Farm Market & Bakery in East Canaan, Connecticut

Rhode Island farmers: Jonathan & Hazel Secchiaroli
“We do it for the past, the present, and the future. For the past, Jonathan farms to honor his family’s legacy. He farms for the present because it’s something he enjoys doing. Pigs in particular give him a sense of accomplishment. And we farm for the future, because hopefully someday our kids will want to go into farming. We’re stewards of the environment. Our practices include recycling food scraps and diverting them from the landfill so we’re sustainable for the future.” - Hazel Seccharoli of Secchiaroli Farm in Waterford, Connecticut

Click on each photo to read the farmers' full Why I Farm blog post. I hope these stories inspire you to think about your past, present and future. Happy Monday! Thanks for reading!

P.S. To keep up with the Why I Farm stories as they come out, 'Like' the Facebook page or 'Follow' Why I Farm on Twitter.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Foodie Friday: Why I Farm Roadtrip, August

August was an interesting month on the Why I Farm Roadtrip - food and famer wise. In today's post I'm sharing a few of the yummy (and not so yummy) things I enjoyed as I traveled through New England.

My go to Starbucks drink is still the Pink Drink (a Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk and light ice). I'm curious how many gallons of this deliciousness I sipped as I transcribed audio from all the fantastic farmers I interviewed. I should have started keeping track of this sort of thing from the beginning of the trip just for fun.

Thanks to Twitter, I learned about National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day as I was traveling through New England. Since I was thousands of miles away from Barbara at The Chick Wire, I had to settle for a couple of cookies from McDonald's.

After a great morning with the Millers exploring their farm, Walnut Kitchen Homestead, I followed them to the farmers market where they sell their pork each week. It was a hot afternoon, so I had to sneak across the street for this tasty treat. Frozen yogurt with wildberry topping hit the spot!

Some nights, supper doesn't exactly happen. When I'm on the go, it's really hard to discipline myself to eat real meals. Instead I often snack. The night after I visited Walnut Kitchen Homestead, that was the case. 

I tried Fairlife milk for the first time in August. I'm not a big chocolate milk person, so it wasn't really my thing. I hope to try white milk soon to see if I like that better. Regardless, I think it's to cool to learn about the technology that is being used to give us more choices in food. 

Although I don't remember what state I was in, I remember stopping for Chinese food particularly because I was missing Ryan. Kind of silly, but oh well. Our first date was at a Chinese restaurant, and in the last two years have sampled at least Egg Drop Soup and Crab Rangoon from nearly every Chinese place in Ames.

If you've been following my Foodie Friday blog posts, you know I've been trying to get a Strawberry Milkshake in each state. By the time I got to New Hampshire, I'd been seeing lots of these Friendly's restaurants. I decided it looked like the perfect spot for a classic Strawberry Milkshake. Wrong. Super fake strawberry flavor, and pretty pricey. Unfortunately, I have to say this has been the biggest food disappointment of the Why I Farm Roadtrip so far.

I was really bummed I had such rainy weather most of the time I was in New Hampshire. On one particular gloomy evening I decided to treat myself to a hot meal at The Red Blazer. I just ordered chicken soup, the stuffed mushroom appetizer and a local cider. I wasn't a huge fan of the seafood stuffing, but I picked out the mushrooms and slurped down the warm soup no problem. 

This is a typical car picnic. When I have time to stop and eat lunch, it usually looks something like this. Cup of soup from a local grocery store, crackers, and a Powerade or tea.

I have quite the collection of Maple Syrup by now. This cute little bottle came from my friends at New Hampshire Farm Bureau. I haven't tasted it yet, but I hope to have a big breakfast one day once the Why I Farm Roadtrip is over to compare all the samples I've collected from around the country!

That's it for August's Foodie Friday. Come back for a recap of all the yummy things from September. In the mean time, let me know if you have a favorite restaurant or product I need to try while I'm traveling. Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Why I Farm Roadtrip in Indiana

The summer of 2015 I lived in Indiana during my marketing internship at Beck's Hybrids. I really enjoyed the state and getting to know a new area. I recently went back to The Hoosier State as part of the Why I Farm Roadtrip. It was great to catch up with old friends, visit all the people at Beck's that have been so supportive of my travels, and explore some new parts of the state. Here's a glimpse of my trip.

Thanks to everyone who welcomed me back to Indiana! To meet the farmers I visited, head over to the Why I Farm Roadtrip blog. Happy Wednesday! Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Motivation Monday: Why I Farm Roadtrip Week 24

Week 23 on the Why I Farm Roadtrip was a busy one! I'm looking forward to seeing what week 24 has in store. These stories are my inspiration as I take on the adventures and challenges of the next seven days.

Kentucky farmer: Jim Gilles
“I’m the fifth generation. I went to the University of Kentucky, got a degree in Ag Economics, and decided I wanted to come back to the farm. I do whatever is needed around the farm. I don’t have a title, but the meat business is kind of my niche. This is the fourth year for it. When I first started it, there was a big education process. I learned to explain how we raise our animals, what we feed them, and why we do what we do. I’ve built a lot of relationships with my customers. You see them out everywhere. They’re always very complimentary of everything and update me on their kids, so it’s kind of cool to build that connection.” - Jim Gilles of Hill View Farms Meats, LLC in Owensboro, KY

Main farmers: Jenni and Dana Flood
"The tractors here are mostly green and yellow. My dad was a John Deere salesman and sold Dana's grandpa the very first John Deere they ever bought. As a matter of fact, it’s this tractor right here. That day, my dad was bound and determined to sell him a John Deere. He had woken up and said, ‘I’m going to sell George Flood a tractor today.’ He spent all day on the front step and finally sold it to him. As the tractor salesman’s daughter, I ended up being the parts girl. One day, I was working behind the counter in the parts department. I happened to be carrying two pails of hydraulic oil out from around the counter. I didn’t even notice Dana because he was just a young customer, younger than me. But apparently, in his way of telling it, he was like, ‘Well, look at her. That’s the woman for me.’" - Jenni Tilton-Flood and her husband, Dana, of Flood Brothers Farm, LLC in Clinton, Maine

Vermont farmer: Joanna Lidback
"I get really excited about what we have going on here because it’s like a dream come true for me. There’s a lot wrapped up in why I farm. A lot of it is personal and a little bit of family pride. I’m carrying on the tradition of raising Jerseys that my family started, and my husband, Adam is carrying on a tradition of farming here that his family started. It’s a beautiful life." - Joanna Lidback of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain in Barton, Vermont

Click on each photo to read the farmers' full Why I Farm blog post. I hope these stories inspire you to build relationships with your local farmers and chase your dreams this week. Happy Monday! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Why I Farm Roadtrip in Alaska

If you've been following my adventures on the Why I Farm Roadtrip on Instagram, you know I had an amazing trip to Alaska in September. I met some incredibly innovative farmers, put about 2,000 miles on a rental car, and filled my camera's memory cards with the fantastic scenery! To top it off, my dad (who never takes vacation) and a videographer from Beck's were able to join me. Here's a handful of the photos I took for a glimpse of my time in The Last Frontier.

Photo credit: Steve Sents

Photo credit: Steve Sents

Photo credit: Steve Sents

I took so many photos in Alaska, I may just have to share more in a few weeks. In the mean time, head over to the Why I Farm Roadtrip blog to meet the farmers that shared their stories with me. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Motivation: Why I Farm Roadtrip Week 23

They say time flies when you're having fun. I've never believed it more. It doesn't seem possible that today is the start of week 23 on the road. Every week brings new opportunities, experiences and friends into my life. It all keeps me inspired and hungry for more stories. Here are a few stories that are top of my mind today.

New Hampshire farmers: Chuck & Diane Souther
“Chuck and I started farming in high school. We fell in love with the lifestyle of farming, worked for other farmers, and then in the late 70s were able to purchase this piece of land. We liked the fact that we could work together, experience the seasons, and be outside. We graduated school in ’74, got married in ’76, and bought the farm in ’78. So it was boom, boom, boom. It wasn’t a farm, it was just raw land. There were no buildings, no driveways, no nothing. Everything here we created and have slowly grown through the years. Now, we do farmers markets, a pick-your-own, and have a farm stand.” - Diane and Chuck Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire

West Virginia farmer: Morgan Higginbotham
“My grandpa is now 86. He started farming with his father when he was 13. In 1947, when he was 17, he bought his first farm and started this business. My dad grew up there and I have grown up there, so I am carrying on the family tradition. Some of my fondest memories are going and selling wholesale produce with my grandpa. We used to load up the truck and go to grocery stores all around in this area. I’m a people person so I enjoy getting to see my customers. I love to see my regulars. It’s awesome for me. The thing that gets me out of bed is seeing the joy my grandpa gets. He is a great inspiration.” – Morgan Higginbotham of John Crihfield Farms & Greenhouses in Harmony, West Virginia

Massachusetts farmers: Phillip & Elissa Miller
“Farming has been great for me because it makes me move. You can’t have animals and sit and do nothing. I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. If you see me on a really bad day, you’ll see that I don’t walk well, and I’m not even 50. I need to keep going. Yeah, some days I want to throw in the towel, but I think about what it’s going to be like if I don’t have something to keep me going. No kids at home. Nobody in the area. No matter how hot or how cold it is, I have to go out and see the animals. I do it for my health, literally. I have to be able to move. I will sit and do nothing if I don’t have the animals to go see. So that’s why I farm.” – Elissa Miller of Walnut Kitchen Homestead in Orange, Massachusetts

Click on each photo to read the farmers' full stories. I hope they inspire you to create your dreams, honor family traditions, and persevere through challenges. Have a great week! Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Foodie Friday: Why I Farm Roadtrip, July

It's been a while since I've shared a Foodie Friday post, but don't you worry - I've been eating just fine! Maybe I can even blame my lack of blog posts on food coma. Anyway, here's a look at the tastes of July.

I love BBQ. After driving all over West Virginia trying to avoid flooded out areas, I was tired and hungry. I was so excited when I found this Dickey's Barbecue Pit. This loaded potato with pulled pork, cheese, green onions, butter, sour cream, and onion rings hit the spot. After a big meal and a Big Yellow Cup of caffeine I was ready to hit the road again. 

Right before I checked in for the holiday weekend with Hope Reigns, I stopped at Maloney's for a quick bite. The burger was pretty good and the server was very nice. It was definitely one of those places I stuck out like a sore thumb because I wasn't local, but by now I'm used to it. 

A lot of times, my budget limits my dinner choices to fast food. But, I've learned that eating at McDonald's doesn't mean you have to order a greasy burger and fries every time. Their Chicken Bacon Ranch salad isn't bad. Plus, since it's salad I can set up my computer for #AgChat, use their free wifi, and eat slowly without worrying about my food getting cold.

But, sometimes you need desert. If you time it right, you can get hot chocolate chip cookies at McDonald's too. They're the perfect way to wrap up a fun night of #AgChat.

Unfortunately, there are some companies that spend lots of time and money creating fear about food and agriculture. I don't need to point fingers or name names, but rather I like to shine a light on companies that are vocal about their support of farmers. I'm thankful Culver's supports the industry that is near and dear to my heart. I'm also thankful for their hot, delicious cheese curds that never disappoint.

After meeting the Haydens and Kiah from Kentucky Beef at the Owensboro Farmers' Market, we went out to lunch at Old Hickory Bar-B-Q. We had lots of laughs and I decided to try a couple of dishes I'd never heard of before. First was burgoo. It's a soup that's kind of like chili, kind of like stew. It's hard to describe, but it was yummy. I also ordered a chopped mutton sandwich. Maybe it was because of the sauce, but it wasn't as different as I'd expected.

Ah, yes. July was the month I discovered Starbucks had the most consistently reliable internet. I may becoming desensitized to caffeine in the process, but at least I'm getting more work done.

When I was home in Ames for a quick repacking session Ryan and I went out to Panera for soup. He got french onion like usual, but I forget what kind I got. I do remember, it was the perfect way to warm up on a chilly, drizzly day.

Coconut cream pie from the church ladies at the county fair in McCook, Nebraska. Yum. I don't really need to say anything else, do I?

You can't go to Nebraska and not order a Runza (or three). Be careful, they're always super hot, but it was a welcomed change in my fast food diet.

Since I started spending a lot more time at Starbucks, of course I had to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck. My regular order became a Trenta Pink Drink (Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk), light ice. For about five bucks I had a nice cool drink to sip and fast internet for as long as I could stand to sit still.

As I shared in this blog post, my budget relies on buying things like fruit roll ups and granola bars in bulk from the grocery store. It's so much cheaper to buy a package than each snack one by one at the check out or Starbucks. This particular box came from Ryan, so they always made me smile.

When I was traveling through Nebraska, a surprise message pinged into my Instagram inbox. It was Jesse Harding, a Farm Broadcaster in Kearney, Nebraska. Although we'd never met before, we quickly bonded over our love for agriculture and telling stories. After we visited Deb Gangwish for a Why I Farm interview, Jesse, a couple friends and I went out to Angus Burgers & Shakes. You just can't beat a juicy burger, piping hot fries and a local beer. 

Just down the street from Angus is a wine bar. After Jesse interviewed me for her radio segment, we talked more about ag, travel and life over a nice white wine. 

At the end of July, I flew out to Boston to join my Iowa State Ag Business Club teammates for a couple days of Ag Econ Quiz Bowl. While we were all together we decided to splurge on breakfast in the city. I don't know that I've ever had salad for breakfast before, but I really liked the dressing and I needed it to balance out the hearty slice of quiche.

I'm pretty sure the last meal I had in July was a whole container of ice cream. All in the name of supporting my dairy farmer friends of course.

That's a wrap for July's Foodie Friday. Stay tuned for more photos from August's delicious adventures.