This is my first blog entry at TLC and I have grain on the mind. One of my first large tasks as the Farmer Training Program Manager has been to finalize the planning of our upcoming workshop on organic grain marketing. It has my head swimming with memories of my childhood riding in my dad’s combine and running through the corn stubbled fields of central Ohio. To this day, the smell of soybean dust is a close second favorite to the smell of tractor grease. I fondly recall sledding down the giant pile of corn in grandpa’s quonset barn, sinking to my knees as I tried to climb back to the top for another run. Grain is in my bones.
But, as the years have passed, my father and grandfather retired, the family farm sold, my relationship with grains has changed. Corn and soybeans are in my past, wheat is in my present. This summer, I harvested my first wheat crop on my 85 acre farm in Pike County, IL. Well, it wasn’t my first really. My first was a 20’x50′ patch that I hand sowed, reaped, threashed, and winnowed. This crop was different. It was my first large scale planting and harvest. It was great! Walking throught he field, scouting the crop. Running my hands over the heads, feeling the rough yet soft hairs jutting from the kernals. The lush green carpet in early spring giving way to the tall, heavy brown heads in summer. Inspecting the kernals as they transformed from milk to dough to hard berries. Grains are in my soul.
I am delighted to be working for TLC, to have the opportunity to meet and work with leaders in all forms of agriculture throughout the Midwest. I am a farmer. I am an educator. I am an organizer. And, I am ready to learn what this chapter has left to unfold.
Meet me in Danforth on September 8 to enjoy grains together at Janie’s Farm Organics. We’re exploring organic grain marketing and visiting Harold Wilken’s new grain mill. I hope to see you there.