Cultivating farming friends
A little over a year ago, we became members of the Washington County Farm Bureau. I was invited previously, but had only been informed of a discount on my car insurance as a benefit. Having been quite satisfied with my insurance provider, I wasn’t willing to switch, so I had turned down the first invitation.
However, the second invitation came with far more information. The Farm Bureau provides a lot of benefits to farmers, including tax preparation services specific to a farmer’s needs, access to legal help, and the means for the farmer’s voice to be united and heard by elected officials, among others. It also provides opportunities for the civic-minded to volunteer alongside of other farmers to assist when needs arise, and the occasional day of fun is not overlooked.
One of the benefits my husband and I received after joining was the opportunity to travel to State College last year to attend a conference tailored to Young Farmers and Ranchers, a subset of the main organization. (No, my husband didn’t meet the age criteria for attendance, but I was nice and took him as my plus-one.) We listened to speakers and met personnel from some of the agencies that assist and/or govern the daily life of the farmer, such as the NRCS and the DEP. It provided some interesting information.
While there, my husband began to grumble about how much older he was than the other attendees. Just as I was beginning to consider ditching him to go talk with some of the women in the room’s corner, we were paired up with another couple for dinner.
While eating, we began talking with them about their operation, which they told us was located in south-central Pennsylvania, about three hours from our home. Within a few minutes, the husbands discovered some common ground and we wives were free to discuss our own parallels. The men were practically inseparable for the remainder of the conference.
Why did I tell you this year-old story? Because after exchanging emails for the past year, we had the immense pleasure of hosting our new friends for the day Sunday here at our very muddy farm. They arrived in time for lunch and stayed for much of the day. Our kids played together while we caught up on and learned more about each other’s lives. It was one of the highlights of the winter.
It is now our hope to travel to their farm before spring makes its subtle shift toward summer and the long days become overfilled and impossible. Then, emails will come alive as we can picture the locations about which each of us writes, and stories of the kids will make more sense because of their image in our minds.
I am glad I joined the Washington County Farm Bureau and am part of the good it tries to do for fellow farmers. I am glad to know I am part of the change I want to see in the world. And I am eternally grateful for the opportunity it provided for me to meet wonderful people from other parts of the state, whom I now count among my friends.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.