Last week I had an amazing opportunity, I went to New York City to meet with journalists and bloggers. The point of our visit was to help share our farm story and put a face on agriculture.
As a farmer, it’s easy for me to get caught up in my own world and focus on my family and my farm. I think this is true of a lot of professions, no matter if you are an investment banker, a chef or a truck driver. Our lives are busy and it’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially if you have no idea what their world looks like from the inside.
Katie Pratt, a farmer from Illinois, Bo Stone who farms in North Carolina, and Will Gilmer who is a dairy farmer in Alabama, were also with me on my trip to New York City. Katie and I visited with Jane King, who is a journalist for Bloomberg News. As we visited I realized just how busy her life was. She gets up around 2:30 every morning so she can report the financial news from the New York Stock Exchange. (And every morning I hear Jane’s voice in my home during the morning news while I prepare breakfast for my kids. It was fun getting to meet her.) Jane has a great personality and she is very genuine. She is also the busy mom of two small children and her husband is a small business owner in New York City. She shared with Katie and I what a typical day in her life was like. She talked about juggling getting her kids picked up from school and sports practices and trying to find time to make dinner. Our life stories are really very similar, they just take place in two different environments. Jane was also raised on a farm in Indiana so she is no stranger to my lifestyle. We shared stories about our kids and we talked about what life was like on the farm. I had a great time with Jane and I really enjoyed seeing what a day in her life looked like.
After we met with Jane, we visited with Marissa Freeman, CBS Syndicated Programming, Integrations/Partnerships for Rachael Ray, The Doctors, Entertainment Tonight, OMG Insider and Arsenio Hall (new late night show). Katie and I talked about our farms and families and we shared what life was like on our farms. Katie thinks it would be great to have Rachel Ray come to her farm and help her prepare a meal during harvest for the men in her family who are working to harvest a crop in the field. Katie and I both thought it would be fun to have Rachel Ray help her deliver the meals to the field too and see first hand what it’s like to harvest a field of corn or soybeans. (Maybe next fall we will see Katie on the Rachel Ray show!)
After all of this excitement, we went to dinner with three successful bloggers. We discussed many issues with the bloggers, we talked about food terms like organic and what the term meant and why some farmers were not able to raise organic crops on their farms. We talked about raising our hogs inside barns to protect them from disease and how my family cares for our hogs daily. We talked about what it was like for my family when we raised our hogs outdoors on dirt lots and the struggles we faced. Katie explained what it was like to live on a grain farm and how their family chose the seeds they planted each year. She explained why they used genetically enhanced seeds to produce a crop on their farm. She discussed all of the threats to their plants from bugs and weeds and how they tried to protect their crops from these threats so they could produce a healthy crop.
The bloggers we met were so fun and full of great questions. We spent over two hours discussing why we used certain production methods but we also learned a lot about their lives living in New York City. We talked about the challenge of finding time to blog and how some days you had no idea what to write about. One of the bloggers, Onica Cupido, who is the author of The Mommy Factor blog, brought her little boy with her. He was a very well behaved little man and he had a smile that would light up any room! I had so much fun talking with Onica and her son. There is no doubt, if we lived closer to each other, she would definitely be one of my girlfriends who I loved spending time with. (You can read Onica’s blog about our visit here.)
The other two bloggers I met were Amy Cao, who is the author of Amy Blogs Chow, and Judith Klein Rich, who is the author of Fooditka. Both of these ladies have impressive blogs, as does Onica. They make blogging look simple and their stories and recipes are fun. I have to admit, these ladies make me look like a big slacker when it comes to blogging. But I found all three women have the same struggles I do when trying to find something interesting to share on their blog. The bloggers were a lot like Jane, our life stories were similar even though they lived in the city and I lived in the country.
So what is my take away from my trip to New York City? Just because I may live in the country doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot in common with people who live in the city. Each of the people I met in New York City shared the same concerns as I do when it comes to food and family. We want healthy food for our kids, we want to be good parents, we feel like we never have enough hours in a day, and we all shared the same desire to tell our story and have a real conversation. I am very grateful to all of my new friends who I met in New York City, they helped me realize how small our big world really is!