Marion County Farm to Family Program

Our Community, Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Jordan

Ohio Farm Bureau’s mission is to forge a partnership between farmers and consumers. Lisa Shumaker has taken that mission to heart as a Marion County Farm Bureau member. She has been part of creating two programs: Harvest Hustle, a four-mile run/walk that takes place in the countryside, giving participants a look at the crops in the fields along the way, and Farm to Family, a collaboration with her sister Leslie Jordan where they help teach families how to prepare affordable, nutritious meals.

“The first year we did Harvest Hustle, we gave all of the proceeds to our local food pantry. We just gave a cash donation. About that same time, my sister was talking to the lady who runs the food pantry at their church. Leslie saw the items stocked in the fridge and noticed much of it was processed food,” she said. The sisters talked about how they would like to give the food pantry whole foods instead, but surmised the recipients might not know how to prepare them. That sparked Leslie’s idea to teach people how to prepare simple and nutritious meals.

In Farm to Family, Leslie conducts cooking demonstrations and Lisa assists her. Since their first demonstration in October 2013, they have held two demonstrations at the Marion Salem United Methodist food pantry plus at a local ministry. The sisters also cooked at the Marion County Farm Bureau Farmers Care Breakfast in January, at events sponsored by Marion City Schools and with the county health department.

“We want to make this very easy, very simple. We’re not professional chefs. We’re working to make recipes simpler, using easy terms. We modify recipes to make them affordable, too,” she said.

Proceeds from Harvest Hustle now support the Farm to Family program. Lisa said, as funds allow, they like to send each family at the demonstration home with the ingredients to make one of the meals themselves. They also give out cookbooks at their events.

Starting a program takes a lot of work but seeing the response from the people at the events keeps them motivated. “We did a cooking demo, and we used an electric skillet to make the meals. One of the women there asked if she could make the meals in a microwave because that is all she has to cook with. We were giving away an electric skillet as a door prize, and that woman won it. Another demonstration was Crock-Pot meals, and we gave a Crock-Pot away. We want to give people the tools to go home and hopefully live a healthier life.”

Lisa said they have received tremendous support from Marion County Farm Bureau Organization Director Tim Hicks and from Farm Bureau members Jennifer McMahan and Emily Buck who have helped design logos, fliers and the cookbooks.

Ideally, Lisa and Leslie would like to have one program a month and work with a different food pantry within Marion County each time.

Next steps
The next phase of the Farm to Family program is taking place this summer. The county Farm Bureau has planted a sweet corn patch at the local YMCA right next to the Y’s community garden. Youths attending some of the Y’s summer camps will be helping with the weeding, and Lisa is soliciting local agriculture businesses to take turns picking the corn when it is ready. The corn seed was donated and Lisa and Leslie’s dad Steve offered to work the ground and plant the corn. The corn either will be given to the food pantry, or the food pantry will sell the corn to raise money for its programs.

This year’s Harvest Hustle is Sept. 13 at Marion Salem United Methodist Church. In addition to supporting the Farm to Family program, the Harvest Hustle is unique in that runners and walkers see signs along the route that share agriculture facts. There is also a petting zoo, tractors and activities to keep children busy while their parents are participating in the event. Last year, Harvest Hustle earned a national award from American Farm Bureau for excellence in county programming.

If you would like to participate in the Harvest Hustle, or donate to the Farm to Family program, contact Marion County Farm Bureau, 740-383-2158 or [email protected]. Find Farm to Family recipes and event information on Facebook.

Want to become involved in your local community? Learn why becoming a Farm Bureau member is a great place to start.