Mallorie Boggs from Pickaway County is the editor of the Sept. 9, 2019 Growing our Generation enewsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.
Hi! My name is Mallorie Boggs, and my husband, Levi, and I live in Pickaway County. I was born and raised on a first-generation grain and swine operation in Orient, while my husband grew up in Licking County and worked on a swine farm throughout high school. I’m beginning my first year in education as a math coach for Teays Valley West Middle School. I also work for the American Berkshire Association as the website designer/manager and editor of the association’s digital magazine. Levi is an equipment operator for the Franklin County Engineer’s Office. We’re expecting our first child this winter.
Even with life being so busy, I still try and be over at the farm as much as I can. My family’s swine farm is a bit unique in that we primarily focus on the Berkshire swine breed. Berkshire pigs are known for their dual purpose as a high-quality meat breed and their show genetics. We farrow around 100 sows year-round. My dad and I travel to seven states throughout the year to show on a national level. We also sell market hogs to a niche butcher in northern Ohio. Our operation is a mixture of show stock and purebred commercial hogs. During the summer months, we sell our pork at three local farmers markets.
Connect with me:
At farmers markets, we get asked a lot of questions about our products. Some of the most common ones are: “Is this pork organic?”, “Are there nitrates in this?” and most recently, “Do you give your pigs antibiotics?” At first, I thought those who were asking probably shop at the exclusive grocery stores and only purchase organic, natural, (insert other labels here), but as I’ve gotten to know some of these customers on a more personal level, they’re just people caring about their food. Shouldn’t we all?
Honestly, I’ve had to do my research in finding honest answers to give in response to these questions. Before being asked, I wasn’t sure what organic pork entailed. With so many labels on the shelves and media on our devices, do those who raise and create the products truly know the answers? I believe it’s our responsibility to know the answers to the questions and to be honest with those who are asking, even if they’re on the other side of the aisle.
It’s also important to be mindful of those who care but may not be in a position where they can ask farmers directly. So many folks rely on Siri to give them the answers and I wonder if they are getting the facts. I believe that we have the responsibility and privilege of setting the labels straight for our food. If we don’t speak up, someone else will.
This past year I’ve taken on a new challenge as the editor, designer and advertising coordinator for Experience Berkshire, an online magazine published by the American Berkshire Association. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but I’m so happy that I did.
The purpose of Experience Berkshire is to highlight all the positive benefits of the Berkshire breed, including positive consumer demand for high quality pork, chef’s tips and recipes, marketing and promotion tools, meat quality education, progeny test results, entrepreneurship and business opportunities, breeder networking, and exhibitions for the next generation of producers and leaders.
Even when my professional direction was the most uncertain and confusing for me, I knew that I wanted to be a storyteller for farmers. I firmly believe that farmers have way too much on their plates to always be an advocate for our industry, but someone has to speak up. That’s where I’m so fortunate to have an opportunity to lend a hand.
In any ag commodity or niche market there is a unique story to be told. It can be a simple question “How did you get started?” or “Why did you pick this business?” You never quite know until you ask.
Read the latest issues of Experience Berkshire.
Raise your hand if you’re someone who has a hard time saying “No.” If your hand isn’t up, you’re probably lying. My hand wasn’t up either until my very blunt sister, enforced with a head nod from my husband, told me that I need to slow down. When they told me, I didn’t know what “slowing down” means and even today I’m not 100% sure.
Throughout my life, I’ve never been too satisfied with staying still. I pushed myself to complete high school in three years. I tried almost every ag major in college. Now I have a full-time job, go to school full-time and have several other obligations and endeavors that take up my free time. But it’ll be okay, right? I’ve read all of the Rachel Hollis-like self-help books. I’m good, aren’t I?
I think as a young professional, life can be so confusing and I firmly believe that as a young agricultural professional it’s even tougher. The conflict of wanting to return to the farm to help dad and the financial obligation to be employed off the farm seems to be a never-ending internal battle. There’s the thought of, “Well I think Mom and Dad know that I want to farm” followed by the quick reminder, “Well you went to college and love your job.”
This is where Ohio Farm Bureau has really helped me. As an Ohio State Fair intern and YAP conference attendee, I love meeting and picking the brains of other twenty-something year olds who have the same life situations. If you’re in the same boat, hang-in there and just know that we’ll all figure it out sooner or later. We’re tough farm kids after all!