Agriculture’s diversity something to appreciate

When I moved to Columbus five years ago this summer, I never anticipated that the agriculture landscape would be so different than where I grew up only a few counties to the west. First, my husband’s family grew wheat – something I never saw growing from our fields. The gold color of wheat and the rustling sound it makes on a sunny, windy summer day has become one of my favorite things on the farm.

Second, the family farm stands throughout the year are a staple in our community and provide an abundance of produce and other items throughout various seasons. Where I grew up we had one, and mom usually only got red, summer tomatoes from the stand.

The third difference is the farmers markets and the diverse vendors and entertainment. While my hometown now has a farmers market on Saturday mornings on the square of our historic downtown, it does not compare to the markets in Columbus I enjoy on the weekends. I only started going to the farmers market after college when I moved to Indianapolis. And at that time, I only thought they were a way for the country folks to bring their crops and goods to the big city for others who aren’t quite as fortunate to enjoy. Well, was I wrong.

Growing up and working in agriculture, I kind of knew better — that agriculture was so diverse — but not really. I mean, you only really know (and sometimes really appreciate) what’s around and what you are exposed to. Only when I moved to the city and started working in agriculture did I finally realize and understand that agriculture is diverse, abundant and thriving in various ways.

While we all have our various views, opinions and versions of what agriculture was, is and should be, we need to appreciate that it is much more than what we think it is, or should be, because it’s not just about ourselves. We also should appreciate the people who make up agriculture — our different backgrounds, families, faces and businesses. Not every type of agriculture is for every type of person.

I grew up on a traditional family farm (corn, soybeans, hay, cattle and pigs), and I live on a pretty traditional farm today, but with a more diverse operation (wheat, cover crops, our former grass-fed beef business and current milling business). While I consider myself a “traditional” farm girl, I very much appreciate the different types of farms and agriculture.

I cannot imagine living without our farm stands and farmers markets, or for the large grocery store for that matter. I also cannot imagine living on a different type of farm or raising my daughter any other way. She will be exposed to more types of agriculture than I was while growing up, but that’s the way it should be. And while agriculture becomes more diverse and thrives in ways we have yet to see, her children will probably view and grow up in an agriculture industry and community unlike mine or hers, and that’s OK.

So while you enjoy your version of agriculture, I will enjoy mine. It includes checking cows, watching our corn, soybeans and wheat grow, going to the farm stand for my vegetables, picking my groceries up at Kroger during the week and enjoying the entertainment at the farmers market on Saturday while eating local ice cream, and watching my daughter dance while she enjoys a diverse, abundant and thriving agriculture industry and family.

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