Two years ago, a group of nearly 60 people gathered at Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande to spend the day learning about basic homesteading techniques. Topics included beekeeping, how to care of fruit trees, safe food preservation methods and more. Participants came from throughout Ohio seeking information from the experts. The experts, who were mostly farmers, provided a one-of-a kind experience for those eager to hear their tips for success.
Since then, nearly 40 Grow and Know events have taken place throughout the state ranging from local foods cooking classes and farm tours to farm market tours and on-farm dinners. Two county Farm Bureau-led Grow and Know events, Medina County’s Season’s Harvest Dinner and the Homegrown in Darke County series, have been recognized by American Farm Bureau as an activity of excellence. Event evaluations indicate those who attended Grow and Know events reported positive experiences and often left events with a new interest in getting more involved with Ohio agriculture.
While the Grow and Know series has expanded and changed since the first event, the reasons behind the series have not. Consumers are eager to hear from farmers, and Ohio farmers have great stories to share.
The Grow and Know series has given Ohio Farm Bureau not only the opportunity to provide a valuable member benefit and educational resource to all members, but also the opportunity for farmers to share their stories with consumers. While this program was created with the consumer in mind, farmers ultimately have the chance to benefit as well. With incorrect messages about agriculture and food often circulating, the Grow and Know series gives farmers a chance to address these concerns and share their views with consumers. The series is a member benefit that can’t be attained from other membership organizations because it clings to the core of what Ohio Farm Bureau is all about – forging a partnership between farmers and consumers.
Grow and Know events have been diverse and in total have reached approximately 11,000 people, with more events planned to continue involvement in the coming year. The 2012 Grow and Know series will take members to Ohio’s orchards, barns, produce fields, wineries and more to experience the sights, tastes, sounds and smells of Ohio agriculture.
If you’re interested in hosting a Grow and Know event on your farm or have ideas for topics, contact Cara Lawson.
Photo by Cara Lawson