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Urban family gets unique ag perspective

By Staff | Oct 5, 2012

DAVID AUSBERGER, of Jefferson, discusses how his combine works to Connie Pitcher, of Sheldahl. Sheldahl and her family were touring the Ausberger farm during soybean harvest as winners of the Back to the Farm promotion held during the Iowa State Fair, sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association. Pitcher’s family also toured the West Central Cooperative facilities in Jefferson.

JEFFERSON (ISA) – Connie Pitcher, of Sheldahl, said she has always respected the work ethic of Iowa’s farm families.

But the opportunity to join farmer David Ausberger of Jefferson for harvest activity has only added to her appreciation and admiration.

“My initial impression of farmers is that they’re hardworking folks,” said Pitcher, winner of a Fall Farm Harvest Tour sponsored by the Iowa Food and Family Project. “That they are. But after visiting the Ausbergers, I realize how technical everything is and that farmers truly have to be experts in several different areas, from seed and fertilizer technology to international marketing of the grain and so much more.

“Quite frankly, farmers don’t get the credit they deserve,” Pitcher said. “I learned more about Iowa agriculture in the first hour of our visit than I knew from the past 20 years living in Iowa.”

Pitcher was randomly selected for the harvest tour after completing an ag quiz contest during the Iowa FFP’s “Back to the Farmer” exhibit at the Iowa State Fair. She was joined on the Sept. 27 farm visit by her son Zech, 16, daughters Moriah, 14 and Kalynn, 10, and her mother, Judy Swope.

AUSBERGER TALKS TO his farm visitors while taking a short break following soybean harvest. From left are Kalynn Pitcher, 10, Moriah Pitcher, 14, Judy Swope and Connie Pitcher, all of Sheldahl.

After enjoying a field-side lunch, they hopped aboard a John Deere combine to help harvest soybeans.

Ausberger, an Iowa Soybean Association Farm and Food ambassador, explained the machine’s capabilities as it gobbled up bushels of mature soybeans for delivery to West Central in Jefferson.

“Most people only encounter farmers when they’re driving behind them on the roads or when we make the headlines,” Ausberger said. “However, it’s important to show people what we do and explain why we farm the way we do.

“Events like this provide the perfect opportunity for Iowans, rural and urban, to learn from each other.”

Following the visit to the Ausberger farm, Pitchers’ family traveled to Jefferson for a tour of West Central Cooperative hosted by Sheila Hebenstreit, the company’s agronomy field marketer. The Pitchers got a firsthand look at West Central’s grain storage facilities and were amazed to learn that the facility can provide storage for nearly 10 million bushels of soybeans and corn.

Hebenstreit, a member of ISA’s board of directors, said Iowa’s farmers stand ready to meet consumer demands for food, fuel and fiber, driven by strong moral and ethical principles and using skill, knowledge, ingenuity and best management practices that are proven and science-based.

“I am anxious to showcase the hard work of farmers and the fact that Iowa provides such a large portion of the world’s plant and animal protein,” she said. “It’s an amazing process and I am so fortunate to be a part of it. There is no other place I would rather be than in Iowa.”

Pitcher was equally excited for the opportunity to be immersed in farming.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to visit a functioning grain farm,” she said. “Tours like this help us to connect where food actually comes from and for my children to learn that hard work goes into food being on the shelf of the grocery store, not just a truck pulling up and delivering packages.”

Judy Swope said, “This evening was even better than I expected.” She moved to Iowa five years ago from Washington State. “It was fascinating to learn the journey of the soybean. And the computer system and technology that’s involved is absolutely mind-boggling.”

The Iowa Food & Family Project is a purpose-driven initiative created by the ISA and dedicated to inspiring 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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