Ah, summer, the time for vacations, beaches, and county and state fairs. While the media seem fixated on the various fried foods one could devour at a fair, it wasn’t long ago that these seasonal events primarily showcased the bounty local farmers produced, from livestock animals to fruits and vegetables to grandma’s special jam. But that was then. Today, consumers think food comes from a supermarket.
Reaching out to educate the public about food and food animal production is more critical now than ever before. And our hat is off to two families who have recently done just that.
The first is father and son Nigel and Patrick Joice of Uphouse Farm in Norfolk, United Kingdom. They decided to open their gates to showcase their farm and dispel some of the myths that surround indoor poultry farming. The farm has 800,000 chickens housed across 16 barns, each the size of two tennis courts. Viewing platforms for two of the houses were built just for the event so visitors could get a prime view of the chickens.
Patrick Joice said the reality of farming is very different than the public’s perception, which is why they decided to open their doors.
“My father and I – and our team here – are all really proud of the way we rear chickens,” he told a local news agency. “It is a 24-7 job and we are all really passionate about it. I was really pleased by the turnout we had and the fantastic feedback received on the day about what we do and what we are trying to achieve.” Besides viewing the chickens, visitors got to handle day-old chicks, ask plenty of questions from a variety of experts who joined the family for the special event, and get a farmer’s-eye view from the cab of a John Deere combine.
“This was a very big step for us to take,” Patrick Joice admitted. “Opening up your farm is a nerve-wracking experience and for us as poultry farmers, it was a first. But we had a great day and we thoroughly enjoyed talking to the visitors.”
Across the “pond” in the United States, three brothers who are Kansas farmers took their education in a different direction – a video on YouTube that quickly went viral, boasts over 5.6 million views, and has received national media attention. Greg, Nathan, and Kendal Peterson, ages 21, 18, and 15, star in the video “I’m Farming and I Grow It,” using lyrics Greg wrote and set to the music of LMFAO’s popular rap song, “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Little sister Laura, age 11, did most of the camera work and mom and dad even have a cameo appearance.
“This is how I roll…I feed the cattle ‘til their stomachs are full,” chimes one of the brothers as a rising sun crests over the pasture where he feeds the farm’s cattle. “True to right that’s my belief. What’s for dinner? I say beef,” he continues as he lifts a juicy piece of steak to take a big bite. “Gotta feed everybody,” the three brothers then rap in chorus as they stand in front of a sign that reads “1 Kansas Farmer Feeds More than 128 People + You!”
Oldest brother Greg, an ag-journalism major at Kansas State University and an advocate for his state’s agriculture, was sitting in a diner with friends one evening when the “I’m Sexy and I Know It” song came on the radio. He groaned at first but then became inspired as he started to switch the words with ones about farming. The rest is now history and a catchy little tune, “I’m Farming and I Grow It.”
All the attention has “definitely been a dream,” said Greg, but so has farming with his brothers.
“When we were little kids, we’d all play with our toy tractors,” he continued. “We’d farm together with our tractors on the carpet. The dream was we’d all farm together with Dad.”
Whether it’s opening the gates of a ranch for a hands-on approach or reaching out to a generation of music lovers with a clever parody of a popular song, the goal is the same: teach those who consume our food products about the importance of the people and technologies that produce them. And about the passion they put into what they do to feed the world.
P.S. – A link to the brothers’ video is available on Render’s Facebook page.
August 2012 RENDER | back