Editor’s note: This is a weekly series focusing on the importance of buying local.
In a non-pandemic state, Carolyn Beinlich, co-owner of Triple B Farms in Monongahela, would be reading to children and students about the virtues and importance of agriculture.
But any celebrations of the coming week’s National Agriculture Week, which is held today through Saturday, are limited because COVID-19 restrictions just won’t allow for big gatherings and large celebrations with many people.
However, Beinlich is finding her own ways to celebrate agriculture.
“This past year, people gladly came out to the farm and walked around looking for good local produce,” Beinlich said. “There is much more interest from people to finding good local produce. People were out picking fruits and vegetables. There wasn’t much else to do. We’re doing fine.”
While the farm is closed until May, what Beinlich would really like to be doing is visiting schools to read and teach about agriculture. That’s what she had done in the past to celebrate National Agriculture Week.
Local schools, which include Trinity Area, McGuffey and Fort Cherry, among others, canceled normal activities because of the pandemic.
“I am in charge of the field trips here,” Beinlich said. “I used to be a teacher and would go on field trips with the kids. Right now, there are no field trips. The theme I use for the field trips is that ‘everything starts at the farm.’
“That’s my thing.”
Beinlich said the farm typically operates a literacy program throughout Pennsylvania.
“We hope we get this all back for next year,” she said. “It’s important to educate the kids about how much agriculture means.”
Beinlich said the push in recent years, not just because of the pandemic, has been for people to focus more on purchasing their foods locally.
“That’s really the wave right now,” Beinlich added. “People have changed the way they buy their food. That’s good for all of us.”
While National Agriculture Week changes annually, the celebration is devoted to educating people about where food, fiber and fuel comes from. Each year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and others join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture. National Ag Day falls during National Agriculture Week.
The following are farm facts related to agriculture.
- According to most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are 386,531 men working as farmers and ranchers. There are 51,865 women working as farmers and ranchers.
- A farmer today grows twice as much food as his parents did – using less land, energy, water and fewer emissions.
- Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people.
- To keep up with population growth more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined.
- U.S. farmers produce about 40% of the world’s corn, using only 20% of the total area harvested in the world.
- According to the USDA, one acre of corn removes about 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air in a growing season. At 180 bushels per acre, corn produces enough oxygen to supply a year’s needs for 131 people.
In a non-pandemic atmosphere, it is suggested that to celebrate and enjoy National Agriculture Week one can attend a local Ag Day event hosted by Future Farmers of America, National Farm Bureau or National Farmers Union.
Other suggestions include to share events and photos using #AgWeek on social media. It is also suggested to utilize the week the week to follow a new influencer, such as The Farmer’s Life or Farm Babe or to download a new podcast, such as Agriculture Proud or The AgVocate.
The weeklong celebration is organized each year by the Agriculture Council of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.
Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can contact Chris Slota at 724-225-1326 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discount cards are available at the Observer-Reporter and Almanac office, 122 S. Main St., Washington.