Agriculture grows world wonders

I don’t know about you, but I thought the eclipse was absolutely amazing! I wasn’t sure at first if all the hype was worth it, but being in totality for those three minutes was utterly mind blowing. I am so grateful I was able to experience it with my mother and grandmother sitting on the ramp at my grandmother’s house. It’s one of those moments I hope I won’t forget as long as I live. So, that got me thinking about other unique experiences I have had. I’ve been really fortunate to be involved in many unique and spectacular experiences. Still, I decided to challenge myself and come up with my top four most unique agricultural experiences in my life.

4. Watching a U.S. grain facility feed the world right on the banks of the Mississippi River.

My brother works for a major grain conglomerate down in Louisiana. Before he started his job, I never really thought about what happened to our crops. I knew the U.S. was a major exporter of food and agricultural products to foreign countries, but I never thought about what happened to our soybeans or corn. I assumed they stayed in the U.S. and were used for either food, oils, consumer products, or animal food. It wasn’t until I visited him several years into his job and went for a jog along the levee that I realized the magnitude of American farmers’ reach. I jogged to his facility and stood on the banks of the levee, watching as his massive grain facility loaded an entire ocean-going vessel with grain. Watching the marine arms (the augers that load the ships) work in conjunction with a robotic marine arm that loaded from the opposite side was beautiful. It felt like poetry in motion and instilled a sense of pride that American farmers had produced enough extra to sell to other countries to help them feed or create products for their citizens. I later found out the ship was bound for Egypt with a load of soybean meal, which would feed their burgeoning poultry and fish production sectors.

3. Lavender fields in Half Moon Bay, California

In my senior year of high school, the Junior National Track and Field Championships took me to Palo Alto, California. I went out with my mother and grandmother, who watched me compete. We then took a few days with my track coach to explore the surrounding areas. One place he insisted we go to was Half Moon Bay. He intended that he would see the beautiful beaches and shore, but I fell in love with something even cooler. On the way to Half Moon Bay from the highway, down a windy California road, was the most amazing sight and smell I had ever encountered. As far as the eye could see, deep purple lavender fields released the most peaceful smell imaginable. I had never in my life seen a field of flowers like these lavender fields, and I immediately fell in love. In fact, prior to seeing those fields, I had never really considered how fresh flowers were farmed for consumption by florists and chefs alike.

2. Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

This one surprised even me. I was in high school when my parents decided we were taking our motorhome and driving out West to see some of the national parks. As we were driving, we kept seeing signs for the Corn Palace. In the small town of Mitchell, South Dakota, I was mesmerized by the craziest thing I had ever seen. Around the corner in this small town was an entire palace made out of every variety of corn I had ever seen. Various colors of corn (some colors I didn’t even know corn came in, but all are natural colors) were used to create elaborate scenes that celebrated societal and local themes. If you ever get the chance and find yourself anywhere near South Dakota, find Mitchell and see the Corn Palace. I guarantee you will be stunned. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would think a building made out of corn was cool. I was wrong — it’s the coolest thing ever!

1. Touring the Syngenta Biotechnology facility

As a member of AgriPOWER (an amazing leadership program run by the Ohio Farm Bureau; check it out), our training included a tour to another state to see their agriculture. At first, I was more excited to tour farms that grew watermelon and tobacco, but once I entered Syngenta’s facility, I was absolutely stunned. During our trip, we learned that it takes around 13 years and $130 million to create a GMO seed that can be brought to market. Syngenta’s Biotechnology headquarters is a 136,000-square-foot facility with a 1-acre glassed greenhouse for growing plants. They can create 40 different types of growing conditions. We discovered the company will plant hundreds of thousands of plants, hunting for one specific gene. Once they find that gene, they will work on isolating it and attempt to plant the same seed and reproduce that trait. Once they can do that, they will then work on isolating that gene and once they do, they will put it in other seeds. They will then plant these seeds, seeing if the gene will take. If the gene takes, they must keep replicating it and studying it until it passes all the requirements for entering the market. We discovered sometimes the scientists fail completely and must restart again. The sheer number of plants that are grown, discarded and then regrown again is staggering. Seeing this facility and speaking with the scientists there solidified my opinion about the safety and advantages of GMO seeds. It was an eye-opening and surprising learning experience that really ranks as my top agricultural experience.

After reflecting on all these experiences, I realized I am incredibly fortunate to have had these unique agricultural experiences. It has given me insight into the fascinating world of agriculture that goes beyond plants, animals, or food. Agriculture also can be entertaining, educational, relaxing and broad; it can be as small as growing a patio garden in an apartment or as large as a several thousand-acre farm. It can be hard, frustrating and break your heart, yet it can also teach, comfort and cause joy beyond all belief. Agriculture is cool!

Submitted by Christen Clemson, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau, who completed her Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca Township.


OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

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Hardin County Farm Bureau

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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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