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Creating connections between farmers, families, food

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM by Iowa Corn

Written By Iowa Food & Family Project

What started as an impersonal social media encounter, resulted in an enjoyable face-to-face connection between two urban and rural families this spring.

Jennifer Montgomery lives in North Liberty and works at the University of Iowa. She entered a “You on the Farm” Facebook contest sponsored by the Iowa Food & Family Project and won the chance to tour an area farm with her family.

The event was sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Food & Family Project.

Jennifer, Cindy and Adam Montgomery with Kyle and Jennifer Stahle 
With kids, Cindy, 9, and Adam, 8, in tow, Montgomery spent an afternoon learning how fifth-generation farmers, Kyle and Jennifer Stahle raise food and care for their land located just outside of Solon. As her kids rode in the tractor cab making the last pass of corn planting, Montgomery marveled at the time and technology needed to plant today’s corn and soybean crops.

“The technology provides so much information for us, helping us plant seed and apply fertilizers efficiently and accurately,” explained Kyle. “But I still need to be the cab, driving the tractor and reading the monitors.”

When she heard he can spend nearly 12 hours in the cab during planting season, Montgomery’s jaw dropped.

Jennifer teaching the kids about corn! 
“I’ll never complain about being busy again!” declared the mother of three (her oldest wasn’t able to attend) and University of Iowa employee and student. “I’m amazed at what it takes to work to feed your family and then grow the food to feed us!”

The families bonded quickly as the Stahles, who have four children (Kolbi, Jack, Joseph and Sean), led a tour of fields, barns and equipment. They discussed the importance of rotating crops to both nurture the soil and capture market opportunities, how Kyle uses a vertical till type of planting to avoid disrupting the soil structure and how, despite all the careful decisions made on a daily basis, Mother Nature is ultimately in charge of a crop’s success or failure.

“I grew up with an uncle who farmed, so I had this type of experience, visiting a farm,” said Montgomery. “But my kids don’t have that because that farm isn't in the family now. This is amazing.” She was also pleasantly surprised about the locality of many familiar pantry products.

Up close and person view of the planter. 
“We sell some corn to ADM in Cedar Rapids who then sells it to the Quaker plant in Cedar Rapids for cereal production,” said Jennifer Stahle. “So it’s probably in your cereal.” In addition, the group discussed how Iowa-raised soybeans are sourced and processed for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. 

It all came full circle when the families ate Subway turkey sandwiches for supper. Most of Subway’s turkey meat is sourced from birds raised by Iowa farmers.

“People need to know this!” said Montgomery. “Now we’ll know so much more about farming when we drive by farmers in their fields and watch the crops grow this summer.”

The Iowa Food & Family Project is a purpose-driven initiative created by the Iowa Soybean Association and dedicated to inspiring greater awareness, understanding and trust between farmers and consumers. It’s backed by nearly 35 partners representing dedicated farm groups, food retailers and allied businesses and associations. 

The Iowa FFP proudly serves as presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and supporter of Live Healthy Iowa, is funded in part by the soybean checkoff and guided by an 18-member advisory team.

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