“You are a part of something bigger than you are.”
Those were the inspiring words of Wayne Humphreys during his opening keynote at the 2016 Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference this past weekend. Held in Indianapolis, the conference brought together more than 500 young farmers and Ag professionals like myself to learn from industry experts (and each other) on hot topics within the agriculture industry.
At the conference I was joined by five other Marion County Young Ag Professionals. On Friday evening we participated in a new volunteer event to help Gleaners Food Bank – “CANstruction”. We teamed up with the rest of District 6 to create a structure out of cans and decorate it for a competition. Attendees would then vote on their favorite during the conference. There were some really creative creations, but I am proud to announce that our district was voted the winning structure! All of the cans were donated to Gleaner’s after the conference.
Saturday we spent the day attending breakout sessions and recognizing county chapters for their outstanding work during this past year. The breakouts I attended included two round-table discussions on livestock issues and niche markets, as well as a social media session from Brian Scott of The Farmer’s Life on how to effectively communicate your farm story on social media.
All of these breakouts brought some great discussion, updates on current industry topics, and beneficial facts to take back to our jobs and farms.
To wrap up the conference, we enjoyed some evening entertainment with a live auction, Ag Olympics, and performance by country band, Darlington Road.
Leaving the conference I reflected back on something Wayne Humphrey’s said at the start of the day.
“Agriculture is becoming more complicated. Not only because of new technologies, but also because of the challenge of communicating about them and educating consumers. But we’re doing the best we can with what we have in this day. When something new arises, we find out what it is, we visit, we learn, and we grow together.”
His message coupled perfectly with the theme of this year’s conference: United We Grow. And that is exactly what we did – we visited, we learned, and we grew to become better agriculturalists.
Thank you to Marion County Farm Bureau for giving us the opportunity to attend and expand our leadership in agriculture.
The Christmas decorations may be down, but today’s snowy weather is the perfect atmosphere to share the fun things I gave and received in the Christmas in the Country Gift Exchange.
This year I was chosen to send a gift to Amanda Spoo of The Good Stuff blog. Amanda is a fellow ag communications graduate who currently lives in Washington DC and works for the United States Wheat Industry. I had so much fun picking out gifts for Amanda and learned that we have A LOT in common! We are both Ag Comm grads and enjoy coffee, wine and crafting. Oh and her favorite color is turquoise. Can you move closer so we can be friends, please? :)
The gift I put together for Amanda included some fun items in all of those categories. Check out her reveal post here to learn about the items I sent. I’m so glad you enjoyed everything, Amanda! I look forward to staying in touch!
The gift I received this year was from Laurie at Country Linked. Laurie is one of the hosts of the Christmas in the Country Gift Exchange so I was familiar with her blog, but enjoyed getting to learn more about her! Laurie and her husband farm in north central Missouri. She is an aspiring photographer and blogs about faith, family and farming, in addition to keeping up with her three little kiddos!
Laurie did an amazing job with my gift! She had me right from the minute I opened the package! Can anyone guess why?
Not only did she take the time to individually wrap each gift – each one was decorated with an adorable Purdue button! My mom has always been a big believer in wrapping each gift so that was a nice touch that reminded me of home. Then, to make it even more fun, she included a card that said, “please unwrap your gifts before reading this.” She sure knows how to make gift-opening fun! :)
Inside the packages I found homemade poppy seed bread, note cards from the Missouri Farm Bureau, a homemade glass ornament, dark chocolate, recipe cards from the Feisty Farmwife, a Christmas towel and chalk board ornament, a turquoise bracelet, and an awesome barn wood picture frame!
The poppy seed bread was delicious! Since I also am a baker, she wanted me to have fresh baked goods to enjoy. I have never made poppy seed bread before but I may have to give it a try after trying hers. And she won my heart yet again with the dark chocolate – that is my favorite brand so great job, Laurie! (Now I just have to resist eating the whole bar in one sitting!)
To continue on with the food-themed gifts, I absolutely loved the cute recipe cards! Her friend, Lorin put together this collection of recipes from her kitchen that celebrate the seasonal bounty of their homegrown produce and reflect the traditions she experienced growing up in the kitchen with her mom. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes! They will definitely take me back to cooking with my mom and grandmas as a kid.
To give me a little glimpse of what agriculture is like in Missouri, Laurie included a pack of note cards from the Missouri Farm Bureau. The pictures on the front were last year’s winners from the state photo contest. I loved every one of these. The pictures are almost too cute to give away!
Christmas was a little different for my family this year as my sister and her husband were going to be on their honeymoon over Christmas. So to make sure we could all celebrate together before they left, I hosted a dinner for them and my parents at my house the week before Christmas. Laurie’s packaged arrived just in time for me to use the fun Christmas towel and ornament as part of my decorations! The ornament was actually made by her middle child, Kendall as part of a 4-H project and had melted crayons inside to give it the pretty design.
To top everything off, Laurie found a beautiful gold and turquoise bracelet that I can’t wait to wear, and made me a barn wood picture frame with a Purdue button on the bottom! Laurie, I’m not sure if you saw from my blog or social media that I had barn wood at my wedding, but I absolutely love barn wood! I’m going to have such a hard time choosing what photo to put on it.
Laurie, thank you so much for the thoughtful and creative gifts! You knocked it out of the park! I loved every single one of them and enjoyed getting to learn more about you and your family. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and look forward to staying in touch!
Finally, I also want to say thank you so much to Kirby Linebach of 15009 Farmhouse , Jamie at This Unchartered Rhoade, and Lara Durben of My Other More Exciting Self for helping Laurie host and organize this fun event!
To see all of the other bloggers who participated, click here for the link up!
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to sharing more blogs with you in 2016!
If you’re a fan of country music, or an Indiana resident, you may have heard about the story of Joey and Rory Feek. They’re a husband and wife country duo that burst onto the national scene in 2008 after competing on CMT’s ‘Can You Duet?’ Since then, they have written numerous country and gospel albums and won the Academy of Country Music’s “Top New Vocal Duo” award in 2010. Rory has two adult daughters, Heidi and Hope, and the couple has a 21-month-old named Indiana.
Joey Feek has been battling Stage 4 cervical cancer. In June of this year, it was announced that her cancer had returned. She recently underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but the doctors told them there is nothing more medicine can do. So they made the decision to end her treatments and she is now in hospice care, spending her time with family in her hometown of Alexandria, IN.
As a fan of Joey and Rory’s, I have been following their journey, especially over the last few months, through Rory’s blog “This Life I Live”. It has been amazing to see their courage through this whole journey and the eloquence with which Rory talks about such a difficult situation. But his blog isn’t just about the sad parts of Joey’s illness. In fact, it’s the opposite. With every blog, Rory somehow finds the strength to be more inspiring to others, even if he doesn’t realize it.
The whole time during this heartbreaking journey, I have felt that I wanted to help in some way. Through cards, food, gifts, or even just a kind embrace, people from their local communities, and all across the country have already been helping Joey and Rory. But as I read each new blog Rory posted, the thought of finding some way to lend my support was still in the back of my mind.
So I decided to give the gift of words.
Dear Joey and Rory,
Written, spoken or sung, there is an amazing power in words. They can change your attitude, perspective, and even provide inspiration and strength.
It is my hope that these words can be a small gift to you in return for all of the powerful words you have shared with the world, and the words that inspired me to write this letter. It might not seem like much, but if it can provide even just a small smile to help brighten your day, I will feel like I’ve helped in some way.
A couple of weeks ago, the day after the town of Alexandria and the entire country music community held a nationwide prayer vigil in Joey’s honor, I decided to turn on Spotify and listen to your music.
After coming to your page, I hit shuffle and the first song that started playing was “The Life of a Song.”
I stopped instantly. I had never heard this song, but I was in pure awe as I listened to the words.
Me, I’m just a singer, though I may be well-known.
The truth is I’d be nothing without the power of a song.
I’ve been blessed with fame and fortune, oh but in the end
A song’s what I wish I could’ve been.
A song lives forever and never, ever dies.
Sings enemies together and touches so many lives.
Words and melody will always be long after we’re gone…
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song.
I could mend the broke and wounded, I could prove that love is real.
And take someone from China to a Carolina cotton field.
I could comfort every soldier, hum all the homeless home…
I could change the world if I was just a song.
A song lives forever and never, ever dies.
Sings enemies together and touches so many lives.
Words and melody will always be long after we’re gone…
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song.
There’s an end for me, it’s my destiny.
But this song will carry on…and it’s just three minutes long.
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song.
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song.
Even though this song was published in 2008, all I could think after listening to it is how true the words were for what you’re going through today. But there’s one major difference. From where I’m sitting, you are already living the life of a song. Your song.
Your music has touched so many lives and your ability to tell your story through song is simply astonishing. No matter what happens and when your end actually comes, (even though I hope it’s a long time from now) have comfort in knowing that you have been doing what you were put here on Earth to do…writing and performing these inspirational songs to make a difference in this world and help the rest of us. And as the lyrics say above, your song will carry on forever.
Even though God has his timing for everything, it is my wish that you can continue to be here on Earth and make music for many years to come. This morning, I was on Facebook and came across your latest blog about Christmas time. Christmas is also one of my favorite times of year and your words brought me back to some of the great Christmas memories I’ve had over the years.
After I finished reading, I continued to scroll down the page and happened to come across this clip from the Ellen Degeneres Show. A 16-year-old girl from Toledo, OH was battling ovarian cancer and performed Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” during a talent show. Ellen saw this clip and brought her on the show, where she actually performed the song with Rachel live.
Joey, I couldn’t help but think of you during their entire performance. Through Rory’s eyes, I have been able to see how strong you are, but sometimes we all need a little “fight song” to get us through things. I hope this can give you a little added strength and inspiration as you continue on this journey.
Please know that I am praying for you both and hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
Six months. It has almost been six months since I posted my last blog on BoilermakerAg! How did that happen?
As a blogger, I am ashamed that I’ve been quiet for this long. “One blog a month isn’t hard,” I tell myself. But then somehow time just slips by.
On the flip side of that, I’ve had a ridiculous amount of things going on lately. I’ve been working a lot more hours than normal, traveling a lot for work and family, my sister got married, other friends have gotten married and numerous other events like 4-H fairs, birthday parties, and baptisms. So when I get free time from everything, I just feel like I need a break, ya know?
But then I go back to…”all of your other blogger friends are just as busy as you, if not more, and they somehow still find time to blog. Get yourself together, Chels.”
Sometimes it gets to that point where I have so many ideas for blog posts, but can’t decide where to start. I debate back and forth and then end up wasting the time I had to start one.
Or I get good old fashioned writer’s block and can’t start one at all.
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
Does anyone else get like this?
As I was listening to a radio program the other night, someone said, “you have to make writing a discipline.”
And it hit me like a ton of bricks…I have failed to do that lately. I’ve only been blogging when I get inspired and have time. (Which isn’t very often on the time part.) Or when a deadline is due at work.
So I decided this morning that I would just start writing. Even if the writing is just about my struggle to write. It’s at least something.
As this year continues, I want to be able to blog more, but I also don’t want to end up more stressed trying to make it happen as I’m dealing with enough at the moment. But I do want to continue to share the message of agriculture, great recipes, and other topics with you.
Maybe this is a bunch of rambling you don’t care to read, but you all have been loyal to read my posts and I don’t want to leave you in the dark or let you down.
So I’m going to try a little experiment. Here are several things that I’ve been doing this summer, and I’m going to let you vote on which ones I write about. Will you help me do that? Having a little direction might help me get back in the swing of things.
2. Planning my sister’s bridal shower!
3. 4-H Judging
4. Anniversary Trip to Gatlinburg, TN
5. Year of the Farmer at the Indiana State Fair
6. Spreading the word of agriculture through Why I Farm and The Henningsens
See my struggle with where to start? There’s so much to choose from!
Help me out by sharing your vote in the comments. Or if you have any other topics you’d like me to cover, feel free to leave your ideas.
I look forward to your votes!
Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far! Have you had a chance to catch any of my other posts about Purdue Ag Week? If so, what did you think? Have you learned anything new about agriculture? If not, you can read about them here, here, here and here. (Then return to the question above and let me know if you learned anything new.) :)
Learning new things about agriculture is one of the main goals of Purdue Ag Week, and the ag students are doing a great job of educating their peers about all areas of agriculture. One way they are doing this is by daily agriculture quizzes. Each day members of the Ag Week Task Force have been giving away prizes when students take a quiz about agriculture. This year, they are having students take the quiz (which features different questions each day) on their phones so they can better record the scores. Once students are done with the quiz, a Task Force member will hand them an answer sheet and go over the answers with them, along with a fun prize!
Want to test out your knowledge of agriculture? Give the quizzes a try for yourself! Here is the link to Thursday’s quiz. Answers to the questions will be posted on the Purdue Ag Week Facebook page so check back at the end of the day to see how you did! (I’ll also add the link on here after they have been released.)
In addition to the daily ag quizzes there have been some awesome events so far, with even more in store for Thursday and Friday.
Thursday is the ever-popular “Pet A (Goat) Kid” event, along with a diversity in agriculture session from the MANNRS Club, a “Truth or Myth” Ice Cream session from the Food Science Club, mini tractor pulls and various other club events throughout Memorial Mall.
Thursday Instagram Challenge: Take a selfie with a farm animal featured during Ag Week events. Then, post it to your Instagram account along with the hashtags #mAGnifyPurdue and #mAGnifyChallenge and you’ll be entered to win a prize!
Celebration of Agriculture: 8 – 10 p.m. (Memorial Mall)
Thursday night will be a Celebration of Agriculture, a social event for the entire Purdue student body, where students can join together in community to continue conversations about agriculture. They will have free pork burgers along with other food, games and music. The goal for this event is to create an opportunity to build a sense of community within the College of Ag and with students from other colleges, too!
To wrap up the week, there will be three club events on Friday from the Cattleman’s Club, Ag Business Club and IAAE. As well as another daily ag quiz and Instagram challenge!
Friday Daily Ag Quiz: See just how much you know about agriculture with the final daily quiz. To give it a try, click here. Then head over to the Purdue Ag Week Facebook page to find out how you did. (As mentioned above, I will post the link to these answers as well after they are released.)
Continuing the Conversation After Ag Week:
Purdue Ag Week will be coming to a close after Friday, but it is my hope that the conversation about agriculture will continue throughout the year. Agriculture, and the farmers and ranchers who dedicate their lives to growing our food, are so incredibly important to all of us and we shouldn’t take them for granted. I encourage you to join me in thanking farmers and appreciating our country’s advances in agriculture by following some of these agriculture causes:
- US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance: Food Dialogues
- Farms Matter
- Why I Farm
- Illinois Farm Families
- Indiana Family of Farmers
- Common Ground
- Ag Chat Foundation
- American Farm Bureau
Congrats to all of my fellow Boilermakers on a successful Ag Week!
When you go to the grocery store to buy bread, apples, milk, eggs, cereal, cheese, spinach, etc., have you ever thought about how much of the price goes back to the farmer?
Probably not. The amount might surprise you.
Did you know that for every dollar spent on food in America, farmers only receive 12 cents back? 12 cents! The other 88 cents goes to packaging, food processing, transportation, retail trade, food services, energy to keep goods cool, and finance and insurance.
Farmer’s Breakfast: 9 – 11 a.m. (Class of 1950 Building)
This is another misconception that Purdue Ag students are trying to bring awareness to during Purdue Ag Week. Many people think they are paying a lot for food while farmers get rich off the profits. But in reality, farmers put a lot of time, effort and resources into growing a product they don’t end up getting much financial return on.
To demonstrate this, students from the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and Collegiate 4-H are holding a Farmer’s Breakfast. During this event, students will receive a complete breakfast (that would normally cost them $2.00) for only 25 cents. This amount demonstrates how much the farmer would earn back from the cost of that meal.
The fact that farmers do so much work for not much in return just shows how much passion they have for what they do. Farming is truly a lifestyle and you can’t just be in farming for the money. Because on average, you won’t make a ton. Farmers simply do it for the satisfaction of helping feed the world.
So next time you see a farmer, give them a thank you for their hard work and selflessness. They deserve it.
Oxfam America Hunger Banquet: 6 – 9 p.m. (PMU Faculty Lounges) – RSVP Required
Also on Wednesday, Ag Week Task Force will be hosting 100 students for an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet where students will get a firsthand experience with the effects of global hunger and listen to a keynote address from Libby Crimmings of the World Food Prize.
But this isn’t just your normal dinner banquet. At an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, the place where you sit, and the meal that you eat, are determined by the luck of the draw—just as in real life some of us are born into relative prosperity and others into poverty.
When guests arrive, they draw tickets at random that assign each to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier—based on the latest statistics about the number of people living in poverty. Each income level receives a corresponding meal. The 20 percent in the high-income tier are served a sumptuous meal; the 30 percent in the middle-income section eat a simple meal of rice and beans; and the 50 percent in the low-income tier help themselves to small portions of rice and water.
That would give you a big dose of reality, wouldn’t it?
A master of ceremonies reads a script to guide participants through the interactive event. Finally, all guests are invited to share their thoughts after the meal and to take action to right the wrong of poverty.
I had never heard of this experience before, but I think it is such a creative way to bring awareness to hunger and poverty. Because as with as many resources as we have in this world, hunger and poverty shouldn’t be something people should have to worry about.
If you’re at Purdue and would like to attend the Hunger Banquet, sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0b4fabae2ca4fe3-oxfam
Ag Week is only at the half way point, and I just have to say how impressed and proud I am to see students putting together all of these excellent events to help bring awareness to the various parts of agriculture.
I can’t wait to see the rest of the things they have in store!
Tomorrow I will be sharing about Ag Week events for Thursday and Friday. Thursday is the ever-popular “Pet A (Goat) Kid” event, along with mini tractor pulls and various other club events. Thursday night will be a Celebration of Agriculture, a social event where students can join together in community to continue conversations about agriculture. And wrapping up the week on Friday will be three club events from the Cattleman’s Club, Ag Business Club and IAAE.
Happy Ag Week!
Hello everyone! How was your Monday? Mine was fine, but definitely not as exciting as what was happening on Purdue’s campus for Purdue Ag Week!
Milk Monday was once again a success, with hundreds of students enjoying free grilled cheese and milk while learning some facts about dairy products. Check out these great Milk Monday photos from Purdue student and fellow blogger, Samuel at Life of a Future Farmer!
Today, Ag Week continues with a variety of engaging events.
Kiss A Calf: 10 a.m – 3 p.m. (Memorial Mall)
Kicking off the day is Heifer International’s new event. For a small donation ($1) which will go to Heifer’s global ag efforts, students can love on a little calf!
Getting to give these little calves a smooch is adorable, but the cause these donations will go to is the real star of this event. Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.
Founder of Heifer International, Dan West, was a farmer from the American Midwest who went to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War as an aid worker. His mission was to provide relief, but he soon discovered the meager single cup of milk rationed to the weary refugees once a day was not enough. And then he had a thought: What if they had not a cup, but a cow?
That “teach a man to fish” philosophy is what drove West to found Heifer International. And now, nearly 70 years later, that philosophy still inspires their work to end world hunger and poverty throughout the world once and for all. They empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but their approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.
“For generations, we have provided resources and training for struggling small-scale farmers in order to give them a chance to change their circumstances.” – Heifer International
Ag Policy and GMOs: 10 a.m – 3 p.m. (Memorial Mall)
Also in Memorial Mall, will be the Agronomy Club and ASAP discussing Ag Policy and GMOs. These are both hot topics in the agricultural industry that most people don’t know much about.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are simply the process of intentionally making a copy of a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism, and using it in another plant. This process is used to select valuable traits such as reduced yield loss or crop damage from weeds, diseases, and insects, as well as from extreme weather conditions, such as drought.
There are several misconceptions around GMOs that these students will strive to clear up. One is that GMOs are bad for our environment because the farmers that grow them spray huge amounts of pesticides. But in fact, GMOs actually reduce the impact of agriculture on their environment and their costs — by applying pesticides in more precise ways, for example.
Another misconception is that people think all crops are now being genetically modified. This isn’t true either. Did you know there are currently only eight crops commercially available from GMO seeds in the US? They are corn (field and sweet), soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, and squash.
A lot of the crops that people think are GMOs are actually hybrids. (For example, a honeycrisp apple is a hybrid, not a GMO.) A hybrid produce is created when two different varieties of a fruit or vegetable, or two different types of a fruit or vegetable, are cross-bred with each other. This is not the same thing as a GMO where a selected trait has been inserted into a plant’s DNA.
To learn more about GMOs, I encourage you to visit www.GMOAnswers.com.
Hammer Down Hunger 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Memorial Mall)
The final event of the day will be the second annual “Hammer Down Hunger” meal packing event. Last year, students from Ag Week packed over 57,000 meals to send to underprivileged children in Haiti. This year, their goal is to pack 70,000 meals!
I don’t think they’ll have a problem hitting their goal. The Ag Week Task Force told me that the shifts for this event are already filled by around 500 students (from all over campus) willing to volunteer! How awesome!
I hope everyone has fun at all of the events today! I’d love to hear if you get the chance to attend any of them! If you post any photos or updates on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #mAGnifyPurdue so I can see how the events are going.
Also, be sure to check back again tomorrow for Wednesday’s events. One important event I’m looking forward to sharing with you is the Farmer’s Breakfast from Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and Collegiate 4-H! This unique event will be providing students with a complete breakfast meal for only $0.25 – check back tomorrow to learn the meaning behind this certain price!
Happy Purdue Ag Week!
Purdue Ag Week has officially begun! As I mentioned in my last post, Purdue Ag Week is a campus-wide initiative at Purdue University that encourages meaningful peer-to-peer conversations about agriculture. Over 25 College of Agriculture student clubs are working to inspire others to See What Ag Gives by hosting interactive events this week across campus.
Purdue’s Collegiate FFA kicked off the week’s festivities with a Farmer 5K Run/Walk to raise awareness about agriculture and the unfortunate reality of food insecurity. It was a success! The event raised $720 for a new Food Finders Food Bank school pantry that will help feed school children during the summer and help battle food insecurity in the Lafayette area. Great work everyone!
Milk Monday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Memorial Mall)
The next event on the schedule is Milk Monday! Hosted by the Purdue Dairy Club, Milk Monday highlights facts about the dairy industry and promotes the nutritional benefits of dairy products by providing students with free grilled cheese sandwiches. The Dairy Club plans to give out 1,000 grilled cheese sandwiches on Memorial Mall around lunchtime. (Seriously, who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese? Can you guys deliver one to my office?)
This event always holds a special place in my heart, because when I was a senior at Purdue, we (Ag Communicators of Tomorrow) partnered with the Dairy Club to hold the very first Milk Monday as part of Grand Alternative Week! It’s so great to see this tradition continue as part of Ag Week and spreading even more awareness for the dairy industry.
Oh and if you stop by, be sure to snap a picture of your Milk Monday experience and enter the #mAGnifyPurdue Instagram challenge! (More details below.)
Dairy Carrie: 4 p.m. (Krannert Auditorium)
Then, keeping with the dairy theme for the day, the Dairy Club is bringing in blogger Dairy Carrie to speak at 4 p.m. in the Krannert Auditorium! If you aren’t familiar with Carrie, she and her husband farm with his parents on their 100 cow dairy farm in southern Wisconsin. She writes about agriculture and her life as a dairy farmer on her blog, The Adventures of Dairy Carrie.
As part of Ag Week, Carrie will be sharing her agriculture story and giving students the chance to ask questions and learn more about what life is like on a dairy farm. And from what I know of Carrie, she’s pretty funny, so I’m sure you’ll also get a few laughs along with it.
I really wish I was in town to attend this event, because Carrie is a great blogger and has wonderful life and on-farm experiences to share with everyone. If you’re going to be in town, I really encourage you to attend her session! If, not you can learn more about her by heading over to her blog or Facebook page.
Ag Week Instagram Challenge
Another neat feature of Ag Week is their new Instagram challenge! Each day they will be having a contest on Instagram featuring a different challenge that coordinates with that day’s events. With each contest, you simply post a picture on Instagram that meets the challenge and enter by using the hashtags #mAGnifyPurdue or #mAGnifyChallenge.
Monday’s Challenge – Post a photo sharing about your experience at Milk Monday!
It’s only the second day of Ag Week and they already have a lot of great things happening! The events continue tomorrow with Heifer International’s Kiss a Calf, Agronomy Club and ASAP’s sessions on Ag Policy and GMOs, and the Hammer Down Hunger meal packing event. Check back tomorrow to learn more!
Happy Purdue Ag Week!
With the majority of our population being three generations removed from the farm, knowledge of how food is grown and where it comes from is decreasing with each generation.
But more recently, consumers are looking to know more about what is in their favorite foods and how they are grown. So in an effort to help increase awareness about agriculture, students from Purdue University created Purdue Ag Week.
In its fourth year, Ag Week is a student-organized event that aims to show the campus of Purdue what agriculture gives. The Purdue Ag Task Force, a Purdue student organization, leads the effort and aspires to make Ag Week an event where the various facets of local, national and international agriculture are understood and celebrated.
The theme of this year’s Purdue Ag Week (April 12-17) is mAGnify: A Closer Look at Agriculture. Throughout the week, more than 20 student clubs and organizations will be hosting interactive events that highlight different aspects about agriculture. The goal of these events will be to give students a closer look at how farmers, ranchers and the agricultural industry produces the food, fiber and fuel that are so vital to all of us.
In addition, members at the Ag Task Force booth on Memorial Mall will be giving away t-shirts, stress balls and koozies when students take a quiz about agriculture. This year, they are having students take the quiz (which features different questions each day) on their phones to emphasize technology and better record the scores. Once students are done with the quiz, Ag Task Force members will discuss the answers with them and share additional facts about agriculture.
I realize many of you might not be able to physically attend if you are in different parts of the state or country, but I still wanted to help spread the word about this awesome event and pass along the important facts being shared at the various events.
This week, I will be publishing a series of posts highlighting the various Ag Week events that will be taking place. Be sure to check back to see all of the things they have in store!
SUNDAY, APRIL 12
Kicking off this year’s Ag Week will be Collegiate FFA’s Farmer 5K! In this farmer-themed run/walk, students are inviting runners to grab their bibs, flannel, and other farm gear to raise money for the Food Finders Twin Lakes Student Food Pantry. This race is aimed at raising awareness of the agricultural industry and supporting efforts to help end food insecurity.
Did you know that one in six Americans experience hunger or food insecurity? This combined with the fact that farmers will have to produce an estimated 70% more food by 2050 in order to meet the rising world population demand is alarming.
During the 5K, runners will blaze past agriculture facts as they complete the course, learning about different food, farms, and farmers around every turn. The race begins at 9:30 a.m., with on-site registration and packet pick-up taking place from 8:00am to 30 minutes before the race at the Purdue Engineering Fountain. All runners and walkers must be registered. If you’re interested in participating, or even just watching, you can find all the details on their Farmer 5K website.
Ag week continues on Monday April 13 with the Purdue Dairy Club’s Milk Monday event and a presentation by dairy farmer and blogger, Dairy Carrie! Check back tomorrow to learn more about these fun and exciting events. Also, don’t forget to follow along on social media by using the hashtag #mAGnifyPurdue and following @PurdueAgWeek on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Happy Ag Week!
I originally wrote this post for my contribution to RuralHousewives.com back in November, but never got around to posting it on this blog. Well, today is the day. It’s Pi Day! And what better excuse to honor this special “Once in a Century” Pi Day than with a special pie recipe!
In case you forgot since freshman geometry class, Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same. The diameter of a circle is the distance from edge to edge, measuring straight through the center. The circumference of a circle is the distance around. *
Today is a very special Pi Day that comes but once in a century. The date, 3-14-15 will be the only time before 2115 that the date reflects five digits of the magical, infinite number, 3.141592653… Oh and be sure to note the time 9:26:53 this morning and night, when even more digits will match pi!**
The star ingredient of this pie (which is very special to my family), cushaw squash, is grown in the fall. But you can stick this recipe in your recipe box and save it for when fall rolls back around! Hope you enjoy!
NOVEMBER 11, 2014 — During the fall, the typical star ingredient is pumpkin. And there are pages upon pages of recipes for it. But as this Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to feature a unique ingredient that is sure to win the rookie of the year award at your Thanksgiving table…squash! But this is not just any ole’ squash recipe, it is my family’s traditional Cushaw Squash Pie!
“Squash pie?!” you might be asking. “That sounds awful!” Well let me tell you, it’s anything but awful! It could win over pumpkin pie any day in my book.
To me, squash pies are a familiar family favorite and are the star of the show every Thanksgiving. But as I’ve gotten older it seems that few people know about them!
As I started thinking about it even more, I realized that I hadn’t had much experience making them. That was always Grandma’s job! So when I was home this weekend I took the opportunity to spend some quality time with my wonderful grandparents and learn exactly how to make one of our favorite family recipes.
And since this recipe is just SO incredibly good, I am going to share it with you too!
Before we get started, I’ll give you a little more background on what cushaw squash actually is.
Cushaw squash – “wait, that’s not just a gourd?”
The green-striped cushaw is a crookneck squash that typically weighs 10 to 20 pounds and grows to be 12 to 18 inches long. The skin is whitish-green with mottled green stripes and the flesh is light-yellow. It is mild and slightly sweet in flavor; meaty in texture and fibrous.
It is sometimes called “cushaw pumpkin” and is often substituted for the standard, orange, jack-o-lantern pumpkin in pie-making.
Cushaw is mainly grown in the southern and southwestern United States. It is a hardy plant, one that tolerates heat and resists the deadly vine borer; can be grown easily in vegetable gardens, and it can be stored for an unusually long time. While the green-striped cushaw is not endangered per se, it tends to be grown in small batches for private use, and is not widely available in retail markets. Although widely known, the cushaw is a favorite ingredient in a few culinary cultures, including to some southwest Native Americans, to the southern Appalachians, and to the Louisiana Creoles and Italians.
Making cushaw butter is a family tradition in Tennessee, and all around Appalachia cooks prefer to use cushaws in their pumpkin pies.
This squash pie recipe has been passed down from my great grandma, Mary Alice Griffin (“Grannie Griffin” as we refer to her), who grew up in Blackford, Kentucky. And according to my grandma Patsy, aka “Grannie Pat”, it may have even been passed down from Grannie Griffin’s mom, Florence.
My mom and grandparents recently took a trip to Blackford to revisit some of the places grandma and great grandma grew up and it was incredibly fascinating to learn about! I wasn’t able to go, but my mom captured some wonderful pictures to keep as memories of the trip and our family’s history.
As I was writing this, I remembered that today is Veteran’s Day. I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to be able to incorporate that into my post about squash, but as I was looking back through the pictures my mom took, I was reminded that Blackford, KY also has a wonderful Veteran’s memorial!
That was the perfect sign that I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, go without recognizing its significance in my post.
Family and history have always been important to me, but I think I have come to appreciate them even more as I get older. And one thing I try to always remind myself is that our country is what it is today because of the people who have come before us and worked to build it.
So today, this post goes out to the Veterans in my family as well as all of the brave men and women who have fought, and are still fighting, to keep our country safe. From the bottom of my heart I want to say, THANK YOU.
Squash Pie with Grannie Pat
This past Saturday I invited Grannie and Gramps over to my parents’ house and got a lesson in Squash Pie making – straight from the pro. My sister was there to help document the day with pictures, allowing me to fully concentrate on learning all the tips and tricks. And my dad, well, he was just there to be the taste tester. :) It was such a fun afternoon!
Alright, now let’s get down to business. The first step is to cook you squash. This can be a little bit of a process so be sure to plan in advance. I found a great tutorial on how to cook cushaw squash from The Novice Chef, but my Grannie Pat’s way of doing it seems even easier!
Step 1: Cooking Squash
Begin by washing one cushaw squash. Cut the neck of the squash off and cut into slices, (like the Novice Chef suggests). Then, cut the main part of the squash inhalf and scoop out the seeds like a pumpkin. Once that is done, cut the squash into large chunks. Here’s the difference in this technique – DON’T worry about peeling the squash before you cook it. And trust me, you’ll be glad you don’t have to worry about it because peeling a squash like this is a pain!
Cook the squash in boiling water until the pulp of squash is soft. Let cool and the peel will slide right off. Once the peel has been removed and the squash is cool, place it in a food mill, food processor, or blender and puree until smooth. This creates the pulp for the pies.
(My mom had several bags of squash pre-cooked so we didn’t do the whole cooking process during this lesson, but it seems pretty straight forward.)
We store the pulp in Ziplock bags in the freezer. This can be kept up to three months or you can also can the squash to save for the whole year! We can it in chunks, not as a puree.
Step 2: Make Crust & Prep Pie Plate
Since we were going all out for this example, we decided to make homemade crust, but if you’re in a hurry, store bought pie crust will be fine as well. Grannie said that’s all she ever uses now days!
Grannie Pat Tip #1: Before putting your pie crust in the pan, rub some butter around in the bottom of the pan and it will prevent the crust from sticking to the bottom.
Place your pie crust on your pie plate. Since we were rolling our dough out, we rolled the crust up on a rolling pin to help keep it in good form as we transferred it to the pan. Make sure to press your crust down around the entire bottom of sides and so you’re not short when you cut the excess crust off the edges.
Once you have your pie crust positioned, cut the excess crust off around the edge of the pie plate. And I always like to add a decorative little fluted edge around my pies just for presentation.
Step 3: Preheat Oven and Make the Pie Filling
Before you start with the filling, remember to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
For the filling, start by breaking two eggs into a large mixing bowl and add 1 ½ cups of sugar. (The original recipe calls for 1 ¼, but Grannie Pat always adds extra.) Beat until smooth and then add in your squash pulp.
Grannie Pat # 2: If you want to make great big thick pies, just double the recipe for the filling.
Next add in the milk and vanilla. For this, Grannie says it doesn’t hurt if you put more than the recipe calls for so just eyeball it. In this case, I added about ¼ teaspoon more that the recipe says. Depending on your strength of vanilla extract, this can be increased or decreased.
And finally, you’re going to add a thickening agent of flour and water, (also known as a roux). To do this, get a little bowl and put 2 Tbsp of flour into a ¼ cup of cold water. Sometimes she just guesses at it without really measuring. Keep mixing it with a fork until all of the flour is dissolved in the water.
Grannie Pat Tip #3: The more of this you put in the faster it bakes and the thicker it gets. Grandma usually doubles it and decreases the baking time if she’s in a hurry.
Once dissolved, add to mixture and beat a little more until combined.
Step 4: Building Pie and Baking:
Before you pour the filling into the crust, I have one awesome little secret for you. This one comes straight from Grannie Griffin. Her trick was to sprinkle the pie crust with some sugar before you pour anything in. Her reason, not sure. But why not?
Pour the filling into two unbaked pie crusts and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and nutmeg. (Grandma does more cinnamon and less nutmeg.)
Then place in the oven for at least 45 minutes. Grannie Pat’s original recipe says to bake for 15 minutes at 425 and then reduce to 350 until set. But depending on your oven, you may want to just watch it to see what works best. And be sure to keep checking them to see if they shake.
Grannie Pat Tip # 4: You need the right amount of shake! They’ll still shake when they’re done, but you just have to keep watching them. (This comes from years of practice so until you become a pro at identifying this shake; you can stick a knife down in the pie to test it. When the knife comes out clean, the pie is done. If filling is left on the knife, keep baking for a few minutes.)
Once the pies are done, let them completely cool on a cooling rack before serving. This allows it to fully set up and obtain the consistency of the familiar pumpkin pie.
Serve with cool whip and store leftovers in the refrigerator… if there are any. :)
This blog was longer than I normally write so if you’ve made it this far I want to thank you for taking the time to read about my family’s history and this recipe that is so special to us.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your family and I’d love to hear if you decide to add our squash pie to the menu!
Full Printable Recipe: Cushaw Squash Recipe
Photos courtesy of Ali Nord and Becky Nord *Information courtesy of http://www.piday.org/learn-about-pi/ **Information courtesy of http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/14/pi-day-kids-videos/24753169/