Agrihoods Gaining Popularity

The following is a guest post from Carmen and Tripp Eldridge from Arden.

Agrihoods Gaining Popularity as Americans Seek Healthier Lifestyles, Close-Knit Communities and Farm-to-Table Living at Home

Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonged lockdowns and produce shortages have drawn people closer to the food they consume, pushing them to make use of their kitchens and to think more in-depth about where their food comes from. Meanwhile, agrihoods — residential communities that have agriculture incorporated into their very design — have been growing in popularity among homebuyers seeking a fresh start. 

Agrihoods combine the luxuries of a modern residential community with a farm-to-table lifestyle, giving those who are interested in farming the opportunities for hands-on experiences without having to make the full-time commitment to farming as a career. Agrihoods enhance the traditional neighborhood, where residents are connected primarily by their proximity to one another, by offering neighbors an added layer of community through outdoor living bonding. 

I am lucky enough to work in one of these incredible communities called Arden. Located in Palm Beach County, Florida, Arden is a residential agrihood designed with a central 5-acre organic farm, managed by me and my husband Tripp Eldridge. We grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on the farm: from potatoes, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, to bananas, papayas, and mangos. At Arden, residents receive regular farm shares and may participate in farming activities to learn more about growing fruits and vegetables. Both Tripp and I continue to be surprised how much interest and enthusiasm we receive from residents who volunteer to help us weed, plant trees, dig sweet potatoes and give farm tours to visitors.

Agrihood communities like Arden have been popping up all over the U.S. in recent years —and have been in high demand. In fact, during the pandemic, Arden saw a whopping 50 percent jump in home sales. This growing trend shows that more people are now actively seeking out healthier lifestyles and access to locally grown food and a more seamless connection to nature. By providing families with opportunities to become more involved with food production, residential agrihoods may have a positive impact on how society as a whole perceives food consumption and understands how it influences their lives. 

This integration with nature also extends into the residents’ social lives. In agrihoods, the farm acts as the social center where residents may come together for social and educational activities, creating a strong community where people create bonds through their shared interests. For example, at Arden, we have a community barn that serves as a gathering spot for a variety of events throughout the year, including our fall harvest celebration and pumpkin patch, culinary classes, and fun nature-focused educational activities for kids.

These events provide opportunities for every age group – from grandparent to child – to participate in farm activities and learn, ensuring that even the next generation builds a connection to nature and has knowledge about where food comes from. Equipped with this knowledge from an early age, our children will be more likely to become responsible consumers as they enter adulthood. 

Food and its consumption are inherently social experiences, so it’s important for people to talk about food and how it affects not only our lives, but also the lives of everyone involved in its production. Time after time, I have seen how these conversations have a positive impact on people, making them more aware of their food choices and creating a chain reaction that allows for a larger conversation about sustainability and healthier lifestyles. 

While agrihoods are not the only solution necessary for creating a more sustainable future, they certainly are a step in the right direction. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to reevaluate the role our homes play in our lives, agrihoods present a compelling example of how our homes can enhance our lifestyles by encouraging sharing, collaboration, and a more sustainable relationship with our food. 

About the authors

Carmen and Tripp Eldridge are small-scale farming experts and the current Farm Directors at Arden, an award-winning residential agrihood in Palm Beach County, FL. Managing the community’s five-acre farm, Tripp and Carmen are pioneering innovative farm-to-table living in South Florida.

How to Start Your Own Sustainable Farm Business

The following is a guest post from Jordan McDowell.

If you have a dream of starting your own sustainable farm business, you’re on the right path. The thoughts of roaming across open fields and farmland or even the pride of owning a small sustainable fresh produce farm in your backyard may be your motivation. In fact, farming practices worldwide are changing with aspiring farmers like you, experienced, hardworking farmers, and even large farms adopting sustainable farming practices. 

The question is, how do we make this work? If you’re looking to follow the sustainable farming path, you need to have a plan and know how to manage your expectations to make it viable for the long term. You can actually consider indoor farming or backyard farming first, then slowly transition into something bigger and scale up from there. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start your own sustainable farm business. 

Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Objectives

To begin a sustainable agricultural business, you need to identify the most important values that matter to you and write down your goals and what you hope to accomplish. These goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For instance, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to start a small farm in your backyard as a hobby or want to start a profitable business?
  • What’s the yield expected from the farm?
  • Does my schedule allow me to manage the farm and meet the expected needs?
  • What exactly do I need to do to scale the business, and what am I gaining from it?
  • What timelines do I have in mind for research, getting the necessary agricultural supplies, and starting the farming itself?

You need specific and measurable objectives that will help keep you on track when getting started. While goals may take time to set and require a few changes before capturing your ultimate dream, the point is to create a foundation for building your sustainable farm business. 

Learn New Skills and Build a Network

After deciding what type of sustainable farm you want and setting your goals, it’s time to learn new skills, educate yourself, and gain as much knowledge as possible about exactly what you want to do. 

  • Start by reading online and get a few start-up farming books
  • Listen to farming podcasts and watch videos on starting a sustainable farm
  • Visit actual farms to gain practical skills from experienced sustainable farmers
  • Enroll in local training if you’re considering opening a profitable commercial farming business
  • Check out different types of farm business models to get new ideas and inspiration

Don’t forget the importance of building a network and making new friends along the way. The sustainable farming community is growing and widespread. A network of like-minded farmers will be your most significant resource when you want to achieve your dreams. Start connecting with other local farmers, supplies, and potential customers like grocery stores, farmers’ markets, distributors, and restaurants. 

Visit or attend sustainable farming events, seminars, and sessions offline and online while keeping COVID-19 safety protocols in mind (for local events). Join conversations online on forums, social media pages, and other online platforms where farmers share insights, and you can also get the latest updates and developments in the industry.    

Understand Sustainable Farming Techniques

While you may know a bit about sustainable farming techniques, you may not be aware of the options available yet. Of course, you may have already learned during the research process. Here is a list of eight sustainable farming techniques you may consider for your farm:

  • Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.) – This technique advocates for fewer pesticides to help protect beneficial insects like bees that you could consider for honey production.
  • Crop Rotation – This technique ensures crops are planted in a sequential pattern each season to allow plants to replenish the soil. 
  • The Use of Renewable Sources – This technique encourages the use of renewable sources like solar energy to run farms and operations. In the coming years, this will be a leading sustainable farming option as more people shift to futuristic farming methods like hydroponic systems in urban settings.  
  • Permaculture – This technique allows for a more holistic use of land resources to minimize waste and increase crop production. 
  • Polyculture Farming – This technique allows for multiple crops in the farm to grow in a single area, resulting in higher biodiversity and healthier soil.
  • Managed Grazing – This technique is the most sustainable for pasturing livestock and allows grazed areas to experience organic growth. 
  • Agroforestry – This technique combines sustainable agricultural and forestry practices to promote overall soil health. Trees provide cover for farm crops, offering ground stability and minimizing run-off. 
  • Biodynamic Farming – This technique relies on the sun and moon cycles to increase crop productivity. It involves managing each individual farming element like fields, plants, soils, compost, forest, and people to support the vitality and health of the whole farm. 

Plan Your Sustainable Farm

Think about the crops you want to produce, why you want to plant them, what farming methods you’re going to use on your farm, and whether you have enough land to start farming – if not, consider available land renting options. Review the different categories of farm produce and determine which one(s) you want to explore. Do you want to start with vegetables, herbs, grains, canes, trees, vines, or animals like cows, chickens, goats, pigs, sheep, or bee farming? 

Find as many resources as you can to educate yourself about the specific crops or animals you decide to farm. You can consider both free and paid resources to learn more about microgreens farming, dairy production, livestock farming, holistic management, sustainable land management, best practices, and other vital skills. 

Create a Detailed Business Plan 

Here’s where the budget comes into play. Unless your sustainable farming goal is to be self-sufficient, you must have a business plan and strategy. Running a farm, no matter the size, needs frequent decision-making, crisis management skills, and learning on the go. You might need as much as $5,000 – $10,000 to get started with an entry-level sustainable farm. 

That doesn’t include expensive farming machines, daily work equipment, livestock, and other valuable items. However, with a good business plan, you can supply food for yourself while still making a good profit. That would allow you to start reinvesting quickly and scaling your farming business. Keep in mind these major considerations:

  • Your Initial Investment – this is what will guide you when starting your farming operations. Have a good idea of the financial needs of your sustainable farming plan. 
  • Production Demand – If you’re venturing into a farming business for profit, look out for market opportunities and evaluate product demand. 
  • Estimated Annual Gross and Net Income – Based on your farming productivity and expected demand, calculate your annual gross income and net income. Is it realistic? Can you make a decent profit?
  • Marketing Methods – Consider using multiple marketing methods and select those that best fit your situation, produce, and lifestyle. 
  • Risk Assessment – Farming can be unpredictable, so assess the potential risks you could face, identify the best practices that could help mitigate risks, and consult with successful mentors who have similar businesses. They have the experience and expertise that will save you money and time. For commercial farms, you also have to evaluate the security risks for your entire farm – in this case, investing in a farm security camera system is recommended. 

Develop a Practical Production Plan

To ensure the most efficient and practical farming operations, you need to develop a production plan for your farm. Follow these tips:

  • First, choose farming operations that fit your area’s weather and climate
  • Research the best conditions for the plants and animals you’re considering
  • Evaluate the soil type and understand the regular soil management needs to avoid surprises – learn about soils at the Web Soil Survey
  • Consider your water source options, know how much water you’ll need for your farm, and plan for that in the start-up phase
  • What product quantity do you want to start with, and how much can you realistically manage? 
  • Consider the production methods you plan to use and work with what is already proven to work by other successful farmers of similar size
  • Evaluate your labor needs when starting out and in the future and ask yourself if you have access to the type of labor you need
  • Consider your land size and whether it’s suitable for the type of farming and production you need and plan for future expansion and risks like drought 

Implement Your Plan 

Once you have a business and production plan in place, it’s time to implement your plans. Have a strategy to carry out each step and have a to-do list with a clear timeless so you can stay on track. This will help you become more efficient and save you money and time. The implementation phase is perhaps the most challenging as you put your thoughts into action. Just be confident of your research, plans, and preparation. 

Have an Efficient Management System

From early on, have a management system for your sustainable farm operations. That will make you feel more in control of daily farming operations and ensure you’re not overwhelmed. Don’t complicate things when starting – if it’s a family farm, a simple list of designated tasks for everyone will work. But for a larger farm, you’ll need to invest in a simple but efficient farm management system for record-keeping, accounting, market evaluation, and more. 

Monitor Performance and Reassess Your Plan

Running a sustainable farm, no matter the size, takes daily work and involvement. You’ll likely encounter lots of frustrations in your first year, but you must stick to your plan. It takes time to learn working strategies to prevent commodity markets and weather from ruining your crop production and ensuring a profitable venture. 

So, you need to constantly monitor your progress at every step and reassess your plans to achieve your goals. Monitor your production numbers, cash flow records, performance, farm problems, and marketing trends and activity. 

Sustainable Farming Can Be a Great Venture 

By keeping detailed records and doing a careful analysis of all aspects of your farming operations, you can make more informed decisions for your business. It’s also important to diversify your farming operations when you face challenges like market fluctuations, extreme weather, or predation so you can continue operating. 

Visit other farms, know what mistakes you can avoid, follow proven practices, understand the market, be patient, and you might as well be successful like other farmers. 

Author Bio: 

Jordan McDowell is a writer and content strategist. He specializes in technically-oriented B2B and B2C content for a number of digital companies. 

Strategies for Getting the Most Return from Your Retirement Auction

The following is a guest post from former guest, Mark Stock of BigIron Auctions

Mark Stock, Founder – BigIron Auctions

The benefits of an online auction are becoming increasingly apparent, especially for those looking to retire and increase their capital. Being able to showcase your equipment to a global buyer base means increased competition bidding on your equipment. Yet, many don’t understand the whole process of selling equipment online.

The goal is to give you a better understanding of the online retirement auction process, how to get the most back from your equipment, and the relationship between a retiree and their auction representative.

How Do You Find an Auction Company?

Trust in the agricultural industry is hard earned, and you should only work with reputable companies that adhere to practices that bring in proven results. When choosing an online auction company, find one that has been doing business online for many years, rather than a few months due to COVID-19. They have far more expertise in online sales and have a large established buyer base.

Recommendations from friends and neighbors can be helpful when choosing an auction house. If you’re thinking about retiring, and others are recommending a reputable company, be sure to give that company some thought. There are many auction providers but be sure to do your homework to understand what sets them apart from one another.

How Does the Auction Process Work?

The best online auction companies can develop a strategy for liquidating your assets to help you reach your retirement goals. This means identifying what pieces of equipment you want to sell, what dates work best for you, payment procedures, equipment cleaning, and so on.

Once the auction agreement is signed, they’ll work with you to build a timeline for obtaining photos, creating item descriptions and taking videos of your equipment – all essential parts of attracting buyers. To get the best quality equipment listings in front of potential buyers, it takes time. We often hear that buyers love to see videos of the equipment operating, such as combines working in the field or tractors running. Since the best time to do this is when equipment is in operation, sellers should work with their auction representative to schedule a time to take video during this time. Your auction provider should also stage equipment and take photos for the listings. Once that’s finished, they will review the equipment listings to make sure that everything is accurate and ask for service records in case buyers want to see them.

If you don’t have the time or ability to clean your equipment before an auction, finding an auction company that can provide those services should be a top priority. If repairs are necessary, then they should be able to recommend local specialists. They will also ask for service records to establish trust with the buying community. Equipment that is accurately listed and supported by documentation can help bring in higher bids and avoid legal troubles down the road. Additionally, working with an auction provider that doesn’t charge buyer fees and conducts lien checks, so buyers know that sellers truly own the equipment, can help bring in higher bids.

The best auction companies also make it a priority to allow buyers to contact the sellers with questions or to test the equipment. Building an environment of trust and transparency will almost always yield higher returns. Farmers trust other farmers and loyalty and respect runs our industry. An auction company that makes sellers accessible to buyers will have a more confident buyer base who are willing to bid higher. These calls and visits get more frequent as the actual auction comes closer but by working with a full-service auction company, all you need to worry about is connecting with buyers. Additionally, your chosen company should show you the bidding history on your items post-auction so that you have full confidence in the proceedings.

How Do We Get the Word Out There?

While seemingly obvious, it is paramount to the success of the auction that people know there is an event happening. Experience has proven that most people are typically willing to travel about 250 miles to pick up purchased equipment. This means that the local community needs to know it’s happening. Full-service online auction firms specialize in getting the word out and making your auction both an online and local event.

Every retirement auction has its own unique set of challenges to overcome. Sometimes that means that a marketing campaign needs to be designed with those specific hurdles in mind. Typical marketing includes a presence on digital, print and radio. For larger items, it’s typical to have outdoor signage.

What’s Auction Day Like?

In my experience, auction day is incredibly exciting, when all the planning and hard work finally come together. You’ll have the opportunity to keep engaging buyers and tracking current auction prices. It’s always an incredible moment when an item brings in more than what a seller is expecting. Just prior to the auction closing, your auction provider should start calling those who were outbid to generate more interest in your items, which can help increase the competition.

Once the auction is over, buyers and sellers need to coordinate on how purchased equipment will be retrieved. The auction provider should be able to help schedule removal dates if needed, but our sellers typically manage the pick-up of equipment.

Some Final Tips

Best-of-breed online auction companies conduct UCC checks and, if a lien is found during the check, the auction companies will communicate with the seller to find a solution. We also see that when you sell multiple pieces of equipment as a package, it typically does better than selling a single item. The more value the buyer sees, the more enticed they are.

The online retirement auction process can be complicated during an already emotional time but getting value back for your assets shouldn’t have to be. When you work with an honest and transparent auction company that has your best interests in mind, the process is simplified and can even be enjoyable.

Guest Post: Roads and Seeds

The following is a guest post from Tim Hammerich.

“Roads and Seeds”

A reflection on global food security from episode 187 of the “Future of Agriculture” Podcast with Ambassador Kenneth Quinn.

The very second you’re reading this, hundreds of millions of people are hungry. When you hear this, as I’m sure you’ve heard it before, I hope you really think of what that looks like and feels like in this very moment. That person that you are picturing will go to sleep tonight undernourished. For them, tomorrow is not likely to be any better. 

Our agricultural system has achieved incredible efficiencies in the hope that fewer people experience food insecurity. However, there is still work to be done. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, over 700 million people live in severe food insecurity globally. Another 1.3 billion live in moderate food insecurity.

The Green Revolution

The Green Revolution taught us that it is possible to make progress toward reducing world hunger. This period in the late 1950s and into the 1960s marked the spread of agricultural technologies to many food-insecure countries. Dr. Norman Borlaug is widely considered the “Father of the Green Revolution”. His work in plant breeding is estimated to have saved the lives of over one billion people. 

During this time, Kenneth Quinn was working with farmers in Vietnam to help them implement improved rice varieties. In addition to utilizing this new seed technology, the communities he was working with were also building farm-to-market roads. This is where Kenneth Quinn, who later became Ambassador Quinn, made an important discovery. Of the eight villages, he was working with, four of them gained access to a new farm-to-market road. Those four communities began to flourish while the remaining four still struggled. It was not just the seed that led to prosperity, it was also the road. 

“It was building all those farm-to-market roads that brought out all of those seeds….Roads and seeds became the formula that ran through my life and my career.” – Kenneth Quinn

This mission of bringing seed and roads to food-insecure places became the life work of Ambassador Quinn, including 32 years as an American Diplomat, becoming the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, and serving as the President of the World Food Prize Foundation. The latter was started by Dr. Borlaug to recognize the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. 

“The bond between Norman Borlaug and me over the 10 years we worked together until his death in 2009, was over roads” says Dr. Quinn. “That was the binding between us.”

Seeds and Roads

The concept of seeds and roads being the solution to world hunger seems oversimplified at best. These complex problems certainly cannot be distilled to simple one-size-fits-all answers. And even developed countries, many of with excellent roads, have instances of food insecurity. 

The concept of seeds and roads solving for hunger is quite literal in some cases. Ambassador Quinn saw it firsthand in Vietnam and the model has certainly been repeated many times over the past six decades. Equally importantly though, is what seeds and roads represent for food security. 

Seeds represent technology. Not just any seed will do. The right seed is productive and efficient and well-adapted to local climate, pests, and diseases. To consistently produce quality seed is to develop a robust system of scientific research, education, and extension. These important components lead to not just seed, but other technologies that help pull people out of poverty. 

Ambassador Quinn argues that countries like America are strong because of our historical commitment to research and extension. A commitment he worries is waning. 

“America is in danger of slipping from its position as the global leader in food and agriculture research. We’ve been in that position for over 100 years – it’s one of the great achievements of America. But we are now not funding sufficiently the public research that is needed. Other countries – most notably China – are funding and putting more money in. We need to support our public universities, land grant universities, and others.” – Ambassador Kenneth Quinn

Roads represent market access. We are living in a time of quarantine due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, we have very recent examples of what happens when perfectly good food has demand but no market access. All of the technology and productivity in the world will not cure hunger without access to markets. This is, of course, in reference to physical markets that a farmer can logistically deliver their harvest, and it can be consumed before spoiling. Futures markets don’t help a farmer that doesn’t have a physical buyer. Further, roads are mostly a result of public policy, which is another essential aspect of giving market access to farmers. 

“Those countries that make use of all of their human resources are going to be the ones that succeed. So infrastructure, research, education, extension, and maintaining peace so that there’s a stable trading system. Because in order to feed people all around the world, countries that grow more food than others have to export. In order to do that we have to have a stable trading system. And we have to be prepared to deal with the changes from climate volatility.” – Ambassador Kenneth Quinn

Creating a more food-secure world is possible by expanding roads that lead to market access, and seeds that are the result of stronger investments in localized science, education, and extension. 
Ambassador Quinn does a masterful job on the podcast episode of explaining the connection between agriculture and peace. I encourage you to check out the full episode.

 

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Tim Hammerich is the Founder of AgGrad.com which connects students and young professionals to hiring agribusinesses. He is also the host of the “Future of Agriculture” weekly podcast about agricultural innovation.

Guest Post: America to Ethiopia

Guest post from Katie Murray (bio below).

 

From 2010-2012, my life was lived in the rural countryside of Ethiopia. During that tenure, rural friends and family in America often asked me what the people I was living amongst were like. The general assumption seemed to be: certainly they’re nothing like us.

That was the thing though. The people I lived and loved and worked amongst in Ethiopia were eerily similar to the people I had always lived and loved and worked amongst in America. Certainly, there were differences between them. Obvious things such as skin color and language and religion and cuisine. But I was often comforted by the fact that these people half a world away from my people had more in common with me than I, or others, originally dared to realize.

The first and most comforting commonality of my Ethiopian counterparts was that they had the same agrarian mindset as that of the people I had left behind in America. Both were rural people who lived simply if not poorly, independent sometimes to a fault, oftentimes less educated because survival demanded more attention than their studies, and typically very proud of their family and culture even though the rest of the world couldn’t seem to figure out why. Claiming my own “redneck” status and considering myself as one of them (therefore I’m allowed to say it, right?) I sometimes referred to my newfound Ethiopian friends as African rednecks as a way to ensure I offended as many people at one time as possible.

For the most part, both of my worlds were made up of small-town, simple farmers. One group farmed with large machinery and equipment, the other with oxen and steel plows or perhaps even harvesting wheat one handheld sickle slice at a time. But for both, farming was a way of life. Making a living off of the land was the only life they knew. In both locations, the people in the countryside lived a life that was simpler and slower than those who lived in more urban areas. The day to day tasks of survival took longer, but the work felt purer.

One group may have to drive an hour to the nearest Wal-Mart or grocery store, while the other had to walk an hour (or more) to the nearest town market, held only one day per week in each nearby town.  Each tended to raise their children to help with the daily chores, more out of necessity than anything else, but help they did. Hard work and responsibility were lessons that began at an early age in both worlds because it would be necessary for each of them for their children to survive in adulthood.

One distinct difference between the two lifestyles was how the animals were kept. In this specific people group in Ethiopia (there are 83 different languages in Ethiopia which means approximately the same number of different people groups so it is necessary to specify this is not a lifestyle characteristic of all Ethiopians), all livestock were kept inside the homes at night. The family stretched out across the floor on one end of the home, while the animals were put in their stalls for the night on the other side of the home. With the home being around mud house, there were certainly no rooms or separation between people and animals. Have you ever slept with a rooster crowing 20 feet from your head? I have. Wonder what cattle do all night? They moo, and munch, and urinate. Loudly. Donkeys too. Horses, sheep, and goats also. Just in case you were wondering. Often people would respond in incredulity when I told them humans and animals shared living quarters in these homes. But like any culture, there was a reason why they did the things they did. Animals in the countryside were susceptible to attack by hyenas (the name of the town I lived in translated into English as “Hyena Town”) and potential theft. Keeping livestock in the same sleeping quarters as the family, prevented both of these occurrences from happening and kept their livestock safe and secure. Certainly, this is not a practice I have any desire to import into the States, but when viewed from this perspective it makes much more sense as to the reasoning in our differences. 

Ethiopia also gave me a new appreciation for the seasons of the product. There, we had no spring, summer, fall, or winter. Simply dry season and rainy season. All life and living things revolved around when the rains came and when they didn’t. No irrigation for when the rains didn’t come. It either rained and watered the soil or it didn’t. Although the climate and the daylight hours stayed virtually the same almost all year, the rainy season determined that there was only one growing season. The product was in season and fresh or it was out of season and unavailable. Grain was threshed and winnowed using oxen to tread it and pitchforks to toss it into the air allowing the gusto of the wind to separate the wheat from the chaff. It was then stored and portioned out to last the rest of the year. Products could be purchased at the local market where dozens of entrepreneurial women would travel sometimes for miles to hawk their goods. What was in season would be sold. During dry season, the trek became dusty, the rivers dried up, and the product dwindled to only what could be stored for long lengths of time. 

Despite the differences in food production and availability, don’t underestimate the similarity of these close-knit families in both countries. Boy oh boy, do my rural friends stick tightly and proudly to their families, to their land, to their culture, and to their traditions. Ethiopian or American, it doesn’t matter. Let a holiday come upon us and we’re all gathering together to cook the typical food and eat in excess. One eats turkey and gravy with knife and fork to celebrate and the other eats spongy, fermented bread used to scoop up spicy wats or sauces as everyone consumes food off the same plate on the dirt floor in the center of the round mud hut. One ends the meal with pecan pie, the other ends it with freshly-roasted, freshly ground, and now-boiling coffee in a clay jebana or pot over the fire. Sure, the holidays are different and the food is different, but the act of gathering around a table (or sitting on the floor) and eating, laughing, and talking together – perhaps even fighting with each other – occurs in both locations.  

So often when we have not left our own world, our own world is the only one we know or can even imagine. Maybe just maybe, when we venture out to others we think are so vastly unlike ourselves, we will find that the differences are not quite as drastic as we first imagined. At the end of the day, we are each human trying to make a life in this world in an effort to continue what those who have come before us have taught us. And for those of us in the agricultural community, we are also each tirelessly working to produce and provide food to feed our families and our communities. Perhaps, we’re not so different after all.

 

Katie Murray is a lifetime promoter of agriculture and an avid lover of good stories. A Georgia girl, born and raised, she has traveled the globe in her adult years but is always happy to see South Georgia soil once she returns home again.

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Be sure to check out her website: https://www.kathrynamurray.com/