If you had to guess how many farmers between the age of 18 and 35 lived in Ohio what number would you say? 200? 400? Last weekend over 700 young farmers (and that definitely isn’t all of them!) came together and in Columbus for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Young Agricultural Professionals “Taking Root” Leadership Experience. And what an experience it was!
Friday night started out with an incredible keynote speaker. He is extremely well known, but not nearly as well known as some of his work. Dr.Robb Fraley is the Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto. Robb Fraley is one of the fathers of biotechnology in food. He helped pioneer the creation of Round Up ready soybeans in the 80’s. He was also incredibly down to earth and a fantastic speaker. He made some absolutely fantastic points and explained a lot of the background of transgenics that I had never even heard! He even invited all of us to come tour his facility sometime. I certainly intend to take him up on that.
After Dr. Fraley spoke we closed our first evening with a private concert by The Henningsens, a really awesome country band. The group has 3 members; a father, his daughter and his son. The Henningsen family is a farming family that sort of stumbled into song writing and performing. The last song they performed was one that they wrote and produced in collaboration with Beck’s Hybrids. It is called “Why I Farm” and will easily bring tears to any farmers’ eyes.
The next day was filled with four different break out sessions that I had an absolutely horrible time choosing which to attend! For the first session I attended the “Understanding Food Safety Regulations” workshop. I chose this workshop because I want to be able to provide my customers with the safest, freshest produce possible. This workshop provided plenty of tips and detailed some of the new regulations being implemented. This is a really good example of how our investment in continuing education directly impacts you!
The next session I went to was “The Protection and Practice of Beekeeping”. This session spent a lot of time focusing on the destruction that varroa mites have caused in beehives. We talked about how bees’ food supplies have changed as people have changed the landscapes over the years and how bee keepers have to adjust for that. Something really important he mentioned was how even people that don’t keep bees can help the bees out by planting bee friendly gardens! I know our gardens are bee friendly, how about yours?
After a delicious lunch I headed to my third session, “Advancing Your Brand on Social Media”. If you follow the farm on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest (@AngelFamFarms for everything except Facebook) you probably already know I LOVE sharing on social media. I really enjoyed learning some of the really great tips that Dr. Emily Buck had to offer. I took a lot away from this session and I hope that it improves your social media experience with us!
My last session was about marketing produce. There was a panel of successful Ohio produce farmers who utilized several different types of marketing for their produce. They shared their unique experiences and what made each marketing system successful for them. I particularly enjoyed hearing about how they had collaborated with each other to become more successful as a group!
After the closing it was time to head back home. I was sad to be leaving such a wonderful two days of networking and learning, but I was also pretty darn exhausted! It became apparent that our day off from the farm was over when on the way home the young farmer from our county that I gave a ride to got a call that he had one ewe acting sick and two more that were getting ready to lamb and that he needed to get home as fast as possible. Back to it!