J500 Media and the Environment


starting young on the farm by jessicasb
May 4, 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: Food + Health, Local Events + Action, Society + Media | Tags: , , ,

Victory gardens are going back in style, and it’s children who are gaining from their revival.

“I show the kids — here’s a beet, here’s how you pick it, here’s what it tastes like,” says Maureen Branstetter, farmer at Drumm Farm.

Drumm Farm, in Independence, Mo., now has baby chickens, much to the children's delight.

Drumm Farm in Independence, Mo., now has baby chickens, much to the children's delight.

Being from Kansas, I always took for granted how farms were the default backdrop to the tiny towns I grew up in or around. But through the time I’ve spent at Drumm Farm over the past few weeks, I’ve seen and met with kids who regularly work in the garden, declare their love for okra and talk about how the farmers give them fresh produce for dinner.

The farmers at Drumm Farm work directly with kids, such as Sam, who is 17 and lives on the farm. “More often than not,” Sam says, “Bruce brings us the fresh food and the fresh fruit.” He says working on a farm has taught him a lot of responsibility he doesn’t think he could get from other common jobs his peers have. And although Sam says working in agriculture isn’t his No. 1 career choice in the future, he “wouldn’t mind working on a farm.”

Stories like Sam’s are similar to stories of kids growing up during the time of the WWII-era victory gardens. “I have very fond memories of working with my mother on our victory garden as a young child,” E. McFann of Delaware says. “Our backyard was loaded [with produce] and then she also had a plot on a farm down the street. Our basement was loaded with canned vegetables and fruits.”

Maureen Branstetter recalls what seniors have been telling her about having grown their own garden in the past: “‘There’s nothing like it.'”

Raising kids on farms just seems to spur responsibility, interesting stories and a good diet. NPR has done a story on four kids growing up on an Iowa farm, and how their family waits until 10 p.m. to eat dinner so they can take advantage of every sun-filled hour. And even if a family can’t afford a farm or doesn’t have the time to maintain one, there are other resources to getting their children on a farm.

Even by growing up in Kansas, kids can be removed from the origin of their food and the taste of fresh produce. However, kids raised on or near farms can learn to appreciate food earlier than if they weren’t.

“They love picking radishes,” Maureen says about some kids who visit the farm. “They’re like, ‘Can we pick radishes? Can we pick radishes?’ And one kid would tell me, ‘Radishes are my favorite vegetable now.'”

— Jessica Sain-Baird
Group 1 blog post

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