Throughout the year, Farm Bureau members help consumers of all ages and backgrounds connect with sources of clothing, food, shelter and energy in their communities. Program activities range from outreach at supermarkets or farmers’ markets to hosting interactive booths at community events, speaking with lawmakers and neighbors about food or visiting a classroom to help students understand agricultural topics.
Franklin County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee was one of four county Farm Bureaus to receive a $700 grant from the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee to help fund “Our Food Link” activities.
Other grant recipients include Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Utah Farm Bureaus; Dickey County (North Dakota), Franklin County (Virginia), Jerome County (Idaho) and Summit County (Ohio).
Grant-winning programs demonstrate a strong connection between the food system and agriculture, while creatively engaging consumers in a way that encourages them to learn more about food and agricultural products.
“Year-round outreach through ‘Our Food Link’ is more important than ever because the average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm,” explained Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the AFBWLC. Farm and ranch families make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population today.
Franklin County’s activities answer the question “Where does our food come from?” and will be in two phases. Phase 1 will be an all-day event at a local elementary school where students and staff explore various aspects of agriculture, including compost, worms, soil and honey bees, healthy plants and finish with farm to table activities in 12 interactive stations that encourage different learning styles (hands on, auditory, visual and written). Phase 2 will continue using the same stations at the Franklin County Fair.
“Though a rural county, there is a growing number of “transplants” whose exposure to agriculture is limited,” said Debbie Brubaker, Franklin County Women’s Committee Chair. “We will provide unique learning opportunities that allow participants to explore the start to finish process of agriculture products and services. There will be a variety of agriculture fields covered using hands-on activities, interactive discussion, taste testing, age appropriate visuals, make and takes and live animals.”
“Our Food Link” activities may also include the collection of food and monetary donations for Ronald McDonald House Charities or other charities.
The launch of the program was spearheaded in January by the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, although Gilbert noted, “All Farm Bureau members are invited and encouraged to consider participating in ‘Our Food Link’ activities. The flexibility of the program makes it a great fit for anyone looking for creative ways to reach the non-farming public with information about today’s agriculture,” she said.
Download the free “Our Food Link” Planning Toolkit and publicity tools at http://bit.ly/1j1jH5H.