Last week Dad and I got to take advantage of quite the opportunity. We were asked by the US Farmer and Rancher’s Alliance if we would come speak on a panel at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The panel was called, Ask a Farmer: Family Farms, Family History. We were joined by two other farm families. Evergreen Diary from St. John’s Michigan, represented by Carla Wardin and her mom Cherie Anderson. And Cooley Farms, a chicken and beef farm from Roberta, Georgia. Who had three generations there representing, Larry, Leighton and Lawson Cooley.
The event was featured within an exhibit called “Enterprise” which looks at history through the eyes of business. Including the business of agriculture, which as we all know has shaped many ways that our country operates still today. The panel’s moderator started off by asking some great questions, hitting on topics including the struggles and joys of working with family in business. Also touching on how the younger generation decided that they even wanted to come back to the farm. For one, Leighton Cooley, it took only 6 months off the farm to realize it’s where he wanted to be. For Carla Wardin it took starting a whole career in marketing and living completely away from the dairy for years with her husband to decide to make the call home to ask her parents, “Please don’t sell the cows!” They wanted to give it a go. And then for me, a college degree from Loyola Marymount University, a lot of concrete life in LA, and I was ready to be back in the dirt.
We were also asked questions from the audience, which included an awesome group of school kids. Asking everything from, “How do worms make holes in the ground?” to “Do farms have names?” All in all it was truly a great event. The panel itself was recorded and will be available in a few weeks, stay tuned and I’ll share that once it’s up and running.
I think the best part for me was getting a chance to meet other farmers from across the nation who also have a passion for agriculture and doing what they love with the people that they love everyday. We had no problem all becoming fast friends.
While I was heading off across the country things at the farm didn’t slow down. The crew was at home finishing up our swiss chard harvest, getting things all switched over for wheat and also keeping all our fresh crops irrigated. So it obviously wasn’t ideal to take off, but since it was only 36 hours away from the farm, since it was the Smithsonian, and since I got to go talk about what I love the most, family and farming, it was an opportunity that I knew I couldn’t pass up!
I want to thank the USFRA and the Smithsonian for this wonderful chance to spread my family’s farm story!
To learn more about Carla Wardin you can follow her on her blog, Truth or Dairy.
And Cooley farms has quite a large role in the movie Farmland. For another look at their family operation check out this commercial from Farm Credit.