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A Love Letter to Farmers + Ranchers

(KidZone version)

Dear beloved farmers, ranchers, farm workers, and ranch hands everywhere,

I’m a city girl... who secretly wished I had grown up on a farm in the middle of nowhere. My first farm memory was during a school trip in the first grade, on the outskirts of suburban Detroit where I spent some of my childhood. We were encouraged to get into the damp soil, hang out with the animals, and ask questions. I remember the other kids holding their noses from the gooey smells spiraling up from the ground. I thought the stink was sensational. 

Since then, I’ve learned more... about your lives - from cattle ranchers and small-plot farmers to large family and industrial farms. I've learned about the business of farming and ranching - how land and soil are worked and how food animals are raised, slaughtered (killed), and sold. I've learned about the business of food - how food is grown, fertilized, harvested, stored, packaged, and sent to markets. And I've learned that some of what you do is controlled by very large companies, our changing weather, and good or bad luck. You have challenging jobs!

Some years ago... I spent time at my college buddy’s 560-acre sheep and cattle ranch in New Zealand. We also visited her neighbors, where I was invited to rise at o'dark hundred to milk their cows. I helped milk their 340 cows with metal gizmos you attach to their udders, while poop explosions whirled around me the whole time! Every day, I drove around with my friend on her farm on the North Island. We shifted animals from one paddock to the next, making sure there were no younglings trapped in a ravine. We took notes on patches of weeds harmful for grazing livestock. We mended fences, counted heads, and collected information on their pregnant animals, too.

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What I’ve learned most... is just how much your lives have changed over the past 50+ years. Sadly, I've learned about things like contract-farming to huge companies. I've also learned about the negative effects of a changing climate. This is creating: unstable growing seasons, lower harvest yields, unsteady food prices, and increasing costs. Happily, I've learned about some solutions to help you survive droughts, as well as depleted soil and water resources. I've seen some pioneering people create NEW ways to provide food for us hungry humans. Some farmers have reworked their factory animal sheds into sustainable plant-based growing spaces. And some ranchers have transformed their land into rows of organic fruits, vegetables, beans, hemp, and mushrooms. Pretty cool stuff.

If I were the Queen of the Universe... and I could wave a magic wand, I’d create oodles of resources to help you grow plants. I think that you would be very skilled at doing this, too. Some smart growing methods are already working today. Yay! These methods include: cover crops, no-till farming, regenerative agriculture, organic methods, drip irrigation, greenhouse farming, and even vertical farming. My magic would also help create less problems for human health, food animals, soil, air, waterways, and eco-systems. And for you, too! 

 

I think it's time for ALL of us to listen more with our Big Heart and Big Brain wide open. In my experience, positive changes start with a conversation... usually at a kitchen table. I'll bring the snacks. 

With love and humble gratitude,

COOKHOUSE HERO

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