It isn’t every day that suburban moms leave their kids for the day and ride a combine, learn about different cuts of beef, or get to hold a baby piglet. But over the past year, that’s exactly what the moms in Illinois Farm Families did.
“We are changing these moms’ minds and helping them feel better and understanding what the farmers are actually doing on the farms,” said Carla Mudd, Manager of Consumer Communications for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
The moms visited different farms all over the state, getting a hands-on experience on how the food they feed their families everyday is grown.
“It’s really amazing that food is coming from so close by but we don’t know that,” said Pilar Clark, Lisle resident. “I think there is a disconnect between farmers and consumers because we have this picture of them being so far removed from us and that’s not true at all.”
Many of the moms have never been to a farm before, so each farmer explains how business is run on their operation while the moms get to ask a few questions. They also got a close up lesson on the cycle of life.
“You see the pig being born, and yes we’re going to be eating it eventually, but I liked seeing the cycle because it is a business,” said Clark.
Each visit resulted in a few pleasant and not so pleasant experiences.
“The combine ride was my favorite thing,” said Amy Rossi, Naperville resident. “I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to go in that big of machine. It can run itself, it knows what to do. I did not like the confinement of the pigs. I think my human emotions got in the way. They explain everything to you and you think intellectually ‘oh that does make sense,’ but then emotionally, you’re like, ‘but would I want to be in a pen all day and not see the sun and breathe fresh air?’ so I think my emotional side took over.”
Many farms today are different then they were generations ago, often larger, because they are bigger businesses.
“I sort of pictured this pastoral, picture booky little red barn and cute farmer lady and her cute farmer husband, and their plow, and it may have been that way generations and generations ago, but it is insanely technical,” said Clark. “Science and artistry and marketing and communications and business all came together to have this operation function.”
The end goal was to have each mom walk away from the experience with a little more knowledge to share with their families and friends.
“When you live in the suburbs they don’t know who to ask, you look it up, you Google things,” said Rossi. “I think giving them the opportunity to ask their questions would be good.”
To follow along on the tours, ask farmers questions, or apply to be a field mom, visit watchusgrow.org.
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