By Matt Reese
A few weeks back I got nominated to do this “farming family challenge.” I groaned out loud at the thought of it. Basically, the challenge required that I post an image on Facebook every day for 10 days showcasing farm life without any explanation.
This challenge was posed during the very busy stretch of mid- to late-winter meetings. A 10-day picture posting challenge on social media was not a welcome addition to the already heavy work load that time of year. I issued forth another audible groan later that night when I opened up the “Reese” file on my laptop and began sorting through many family and farm pictures. I surely didn’t have time for this.
About an hour later, though, my mood had changed. I’d gone from sort of grumpy to a bit misty-eyed as I scrolled through pictures highlighting generations of my family, many showcasing work on the farm. I chuckled to myself about some great shots I had forgotten about and got a lump in my throat as I watched my children grow before my eyes, working alongside their parents, grandparents and great grandparents along the way. What a life I have lived on and around my farm, and on visits to many of your farms as well!
Before I knew it, I was struggling to decide which photos to choose to share over the 10 days. It was tough. Then, as I shared them, it was so humbling to hear kind words from others in response to the insights I’d provided into my life through the photos. I have included some of my favorites here.
A couple weeks after I wrapped up my 10 days of sharing photos, Ohio’s agricultural organizations put out a direct request to the farmers of Ohio asking them to do something similar for some very important reasons. In an open letter to Ohio agriculture, the farm groups pointed out the increasing animosity directed at farming, especially with regard to water quality in Ohio.
“This is an urgent time to talk to your neighbors. Share how the vast majority of farmers in Ohio are being proactive in finding a balance between producing food and protecting water. These are tough conversations but they are necessary conversations. We need to make our case to those who need to hear it,” the groups said in the letter.
Pictures of family and farming can be very powerful, especially to those who are unfamiliar with a life in agriculture, but they are certainly not the only way to share your farm’s story. Talk to neighbors, the people you sit next to at church, or the person waiting in line at the grocery. Tell them you are a farmer and that you care about clean water and have invested time, effort and money into doing more with less and protecting the resources on your farm. Show them the proof through pictures, videos or a visit to your farm highlighting these efforts. Connect with them by demonstrating you care about your family and the environment just like they do. This is really important.
Ohio agriculture, you are doing some really amazing things. Celebrate them, showcase them, build upon them, and help family and farming be as large of a part of Ohio’s bright future as they have been in our incredible past.