Hometown Farmer - Farm to Table
Just how important is it to teach the younger generations what actually happens on the farm?
We're heading to a field, next to Valley Ag Supply in Gayville, SD, South Dakota to find out, this week, in "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer."
Over three days, more than 600 kids got to experience an outdoor classroom in a field outside Gayville, SD.
Valley Ag Supply Owner Greg Pirak and his wife put this on each year, and call it "Farm to Table."
A few years ago, Greg says he and his wife realized that a lot of kids don't know how food ends up on their tables.
"My wife grew up on a farm and when we kind of took this over, she said, 'Greg, do we need to spend time doing this?'" said Greg, describing a group of kids from one of the earlier 'Farm to Table' events he helped put on, while pointing to a tractor. "The kids from her school, which was a rural school, and they got off the bus and said, 'oh, that big red thing is cool, what is it?'"
On this day, Junior High School students were going to different stations, learning everything from the perspective of professionals involved directly in agriculture, from seeds and economics, to genetics and GMO's.
"Because of genetically modified crops, we don't spray as much insecticide anymore," said Greg. "Because of genetically modified crops, we can actually spread chemicals that keep the weeds down so that we don't need to till the soil."
"There's only one gene we changed," said Keith Mockler from Monsanto, who was teaching at one of the stations and holding up a soybean plant. "That gene allows us to spray these plants with roundup."
Mockler says a lot of kids don't know much about agriculture, because so few people are involved anymore.
"There's actually only one percent of the population that's actually growing the food for us," said Mockler. "A lot of it's just education and understanding."
Mockler throws a little algebra into his presentations, as well, to help students understand what it's really like to work the land and the risks involved.
"I want'em to know that their education's important to'em and that not to take everything at face value and to take a look at where their food comes from," said Mockler. "What it takes to grow it and how much it costs the American grower to raise a bushel of soybeans or an acre of soybeans and that it's not easy. A lot of these farmers are going to come up $20 to $50 short this fall."
If you think of a farmer that might be great on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at: firstname.lastname@example.org.