Monday, September 27, 2010

Urban Wheat Field - Washington, DC

A view of the Capitol from the Urban Wheat Field site

The Urban Wheat Field hosted by National Association of Wheat Growers in partnership with the Wheat Foods Council in Washington DC was amazing, to say the least.  My blog will have lots of pictures and I will show you what the visitors saw, so it may be long, but  it is worth the read! =)  This event was designed for the urban consumer to see, from start to finish,  the journey of a wheat plant from its young green grass looking stage to the golden wheat head stage.   The stations were set up to educate the consumer about milling the product, exporting it to other countries, a baking station, and a mock-up of a grocery store isle that showed an assortment of products such as cookies, crackers, bread or flour.  The space for this event was on a quarter-acre field. 

On Wednesday, September 22, there was lots of activity going on as the wheat arrived via semi trucks as shown below.  As mentioned in an earlier blog, the wheat was grown at the University of  Maryland.

Golden ripe wheat  arrives and awaits to be unloaded

The wheat was unloaded from the semis by the forklift as shown above

Shown here is the wheat in its green grass looking stage

The combine arrives amid lots of traffic on a semi

We had been told the combine would arrive on location around 3:00a.m. to avoid traffic, but that was not the case and it arrived mid-afternoon amidst a busy street.  It was quite a sight to be seen.

The header for the combine was following on a lowboy trailer

Each step of the way through the wheat field was a sign like this that
explained the process

More information on what happens to the
wheat after it is harvested

Explaining that we also not only feed America
but export crops to feed  the world

The baking station

The baking station's tantalizing  smells automatically drew the crowd to their trailer with samples of  cinnamon rolls, bread and cookies.  Guests also received a small bag of flour as well.

The milling station showed how wheat is made into flour

 The milling station was a fun one as people got to see how wheat seeds were ground up into flour, plus there was a hand grinder there too.

A master chef was on hand to give demos on making
homemade goodies. Sample cupcakes were a hit with everyone

The master chef  gave short demos through out the day on how easy it is to make things from scratch. 

Left to right, Travis, Jerry, Robyn, Scott, me, and Joe

Many volunteers like us from the wheat producing states,were on hand to visit with people, give tours,and answer questions.  It was a great opportunity to give our urban friends a glimpse of what we get to do and see every year.  The temperature during this event was in the mid to high 90's complete with humidity, which us Idahoans are not used to. =)

A representative from Case IH (the brand of  the combine) and Joe visit.
Note the cinnamon roll in the reps hand.

Collin Peterson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee

 We were honored to have Congressmen Collin Peterson be our keynote speaker for the ceremony.  He is a farmer himself and knows the importance that agriculture plays in the American economy.

Ribbon cutting ceremony with Collin Peterson doing the honors

Joe Anderson, Travis Jones  and Scott Brown during the open ceremony
Idaho Grain Producers Association is lucky to have Travis Jones as their Executive Director, not only for his great work in this organization, but for his vast knowledge of the inner workings on Capitol Hill.  Prior to being hired as director, Travis was a legislative aid  to Senator Craig.  Thus he knew how to navigate around Capitol Hill, the proper protocol required, plus Travis still has many friends and contacts on the hill, what an asset to our organization.

Ms. Dana Peterson to the left in the black pants suit during
the opening ceremony

Ms Dana Peterson, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, who has been on the job for less than a year, is also an asset to those of us in agriculture.  Dana and Travis spend countless hours behind the scenes to assure a better future for our industry.

Joe talking to a guest in front of the mock-up grocery store isle

Guests wandering through the exhibit 

A view from the end of the wheat field that shows the milling
station, baking station and grocery store isle

The day before, many of us went to Capitol Hill to visit with our congressmen as shown below.

On our way to Walt Minnick's office

For more pictures of this event from the National Association of Wheat Growers, click this link:

Monday, September 20, 2010

2nd Dinner on the Farm for 2010

Simple hand written welcome to our attendees
These dinners have been as fun for us as I think ( and hope) for our guests.  This was the 2nd and last one for the year and I already have 2 people waiting for next year's dinner.    From the feedback that we get, the guests love this event.  As in last year, we let the guests shape the evening.  Our formula for the event is simple -  we have as much equipment on hand as possible to show them, explain what each piece does and why it is needed, but mostly answer their questions.  This is a relaxed affair designed to gently educate and provide a view into our farming lives.  We feel this approach is working and the guests are free to ask whatever they want and keep it from being a "classroom" situation where we lecture and you listen  kind of function.  So each dinner is like an adventure - you do not know where it will take you, but you know it will be a memorable time.

Our guest list again was amazing, we had Glen, a software engineer and his wife Susan who works as a scheduler for a doctor,  also in attendance was Britt, a teacher who is staying home right now with the little ones, and her husband Eric, an assistant principal for a local high school.  We invited Dr. Dan Schmidt,  Idaho State Senate candidate and his wife, Martha.  Our other farm host couple was "Potlatch" Joe Anderson and his wife, Pam. (No relation to us).   I must say, all the guests from the dinners have been fun and engaging not only with us, but each other. =)

Farm Hosts (left to right) Pam Anderson, Potlatch Joe Anderson
Britt and Eric enjoying a drink before we head out to the field

Potlatch Joe, Pam and Dr. Dan Schmidt
getting acquainted

The group gathering as we head out to the field
Left to right, Joe, Glen, Susan, Dan, Me, Britt,
Eric, Potlatch Joe, Pam and Martha

The menu for this year's event -
Entrees/ Meat Lasagna, Spinach/Artichoke Lasagna  Almond Crusted Chicken and Lentil Chili
Salad/ Garbanzo/zucchini
Bread/ Artisan bread from Panhandle Bakery
Desserts/ Lemon Tart, Walnut Tart, Zucchini Chocolate Cake, Rustic Chocolate Pie, Blackberry Shortbread Squares and Lentil Brownies  ( I couldn't help myself when thumbing through the recipe books for things to make.  I couldn't decide so I made many of my favorite ones)  The recipes for these are on the recipe page of this blog (or will be added shortly!)

Martha, Britt, Eric visiting outside before dinner

Out in our garb field in front of the combine

Me, Martha, Dan, Potlatch Joe and Pam by
the tractor. The guests loved the big equipment

A few of the guys took a peek into the cab of
the combine

Susan and Glen amazed at
the size of some of the equipment

The guests were hungry and we were all
heading into the house for dinner

Our oldest daughter, Jen was again on hand to take pictures of the event and later commented to me that the dinner conversation was quite spirited, of which it was.  Perhaps because of the composition of the guests, we focused on the importance of higher education and it's connection to Ag in our State.  Agriculture needs our universities, both University of Idaho and Washington State University for their wheat breading research & programs, plus farmers use them as a resource to get answers to their questions.  Susan wanted to know if other farms did this kind of event or was it only us?  I replied that as far as I know it, we are the only ones who do this at no charge and as an educational service to the public.  I do know that other places in the southern end of our state and do a dinner, but there is a charge  and I am unsure of what their program is like.  Anyway, Joe and I love doing this and are committed to continuing this event on a yearly basis.  Perhaps more farm couples will hold their own version of the Dinner on the Farm as it is certainly an important and worthwhile effort.

Joe and I realize there is a hunger and thirst from people in the non Ag sector who truly want a connection, however they can find it,  to where their food is produced. 

With that my friends is the conclusion of our 2010 dinner event.  Stay tuned for more on the Urban Ag field in Washington, DC., our fall planting of the wheat and more updates about the farm life. As always, I love comments and questions, so feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Garbanzo Harvest 2010

Above is a short video of the combine cutting the garbs.  For some reason my computer and camera do not like each other and I am only able to post really short clips.

We moved up to the Genesee farm to begin cutting garbanzos and it has been hit and miss getting into the field with cool rainy weather.  We only have 2 days left on the garb harvest once we can get back into the field - so hold off washing windows, cars or anything else that triggers rain, please! =)

Harvesting garbs in front of our house. The garb plant is
closer to the ground so not much crop residue is left on
the ground once the combine goes over it.
With this 40' Draper Flex Header, it allows us to only have to use one header for both wheat and legume crops.  Normally farmers must have two different headers for the wheat or a grain crop (barley, oats) and a different one for the legumes (peas, lentils or garbanzos).  Each header would have different finger like tines that pick up the crop.  So this header is a bonus to only have to have one for both kinds of crops.

Lots of dust and plant matter expelled
from the back of the combine


Sunday, September 12, 2010

2nd Annual Dinner on the Farm, 09-10-10

Menu for 2010 Dinner on the Farm
Our 2nd annual Dinner on the Farm event was again, a worthwhile affair. The weather was perfect, sunny, calm and in the 60's. One of the guests asked me how we got started doing this and I explained back in April, 2009 I attended a Women’s Leadership program sponsored by Syngenta and the National Wheat Growers Association. The conference was designed to provide women with a skill set in which to speak to the public, politicians, and the media, but above all, to inspire women to reach out and educate the public about what farmers do. Our dinner event also coincided with me receiving a letter from American Agri-Women, an organization of which I belong to, with the letter starting out saying “agriculture is under siege” and urging women to be proactive and spread the word about the importance of agriculture. With so much negative publicity in the news and the journalism reporting seems to show only one side of agriculture, which is not in a positive light, we need to counter the bad publicity and all producers need to take the time and step up and tell our story! I tell our story through my blog, social media and hosting these dinners.

Guests gathering in the kitchen before heading out to the field for a tour
Our guest list was comprised of people who applied to attend the event and some that I specifically targeted for their importance in the community. The ones we purposely sought out were the City of Moscow’s Executive Director for the Chamber of Commerce, Steve Hacker and his wife, Traci. The other couple was Gresham Dale Bouma and his wife Wendy, of which Gresham is running for office as our Legislative District 6 State Senator. We felt it is imperative to have a good rapport with these leaders and urge them to use us as a resource if they ever had questions about agriculture. Next week’s dinner will be attended by the other candidate for the state senate seat. The other farm host couple was Jay and Lisa Anderson, our farming partners, and again they were a true asset with their naturally fun and witty personalities, plus being able to easily converse with the guests.

Sister in law, Lisa enjoying herself

Guests starting out for the farm tour
Matthew and Gresham (not facing the camera)
Guests - Anastasia (far right), Traci, Steven, Patrick and husband, Joe
in the garbanzo field next to our house

Guests, Wendy and Gresham with brother in law, Jay

Anastasia and Traci sharing a laugh

Guests enjoying the crop tour on a beautiful Fall evening 

The remainder of the guest list was comprised of one couple who waited a year to attend farm dinner event (thank you Anastasia & Matthew). Anastasia is an Associate Professor of International and Environmental Law at the University of Idaho and her husband, Matthew, a mechanical engineer. The other guest was Patrick, the District Conservationist for Latah County. Unfortunately, Patrick’s wife, Tracy, whose keen interest in Ag, was unable to attend due to an unexpected event which took her out of town. Tracy, in her application, said she grew up in NYC and was more familiar with asphalt than wheat and wanted to see what we do. We invited Patrick to bring his wife out to the farm anytime. All in all, it was a wonderful group and the conversation and questions were excellent. Again topics ranged from erosion to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and it was all discussed over a hardy dinner.

We had hoped to have the combines up here in time for this farm dinner, but the weatherman was not very cooperative and with the rain earlier in the week, it stopped the garb harvest for a few days.  So with about 1 more day left to harvest down at the Tammany farm we should get done by Monday and then move the equipment up to the Genesee farm and will have the combines on hand for next week's dinner. =)

Traci and Steven enjoying a beverage before dinner

Great guests + good food = fun evening

This is what the guests were sent home with
Due to the generosity of Pacific NW Farmers Cooperative, we had Pea & Lentil Cookbooks and a 2lb bag of lentils to give the guests.  Kaufman Farms also donated Barley Soup packets and the Pea & Lentil Commission donated a packet of dried garbanzos, recipes and a lapel pin.  We also received a few Idaho Wheat cookbooks that I thought would be great hostess gifts to our farm hosts.

A gift for Jay & Lisa
Cookbook was donated by Idaho Wheat Commission
along with Idaho Wheat lapel pins
All in all we felt the evening was a success and the guests were all very appreciative of our efforts.  It is fun getting to meet these wonderful new people and a good rapport has been established.

Stay tuned for next week's report on the Dinner on the Farm.  Our farm hosts for the 09/18/10 dinner is "Potlatch Joe Anderson" and his wife Pam.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September is a busy time on the Anderson Farm

September is shaping up to be a really busy time on the Anderson Farm.  Besides harvesting lentils and garbanzo beans (watch for more pictures on that harvest) .......
This same combine and header will be used
to harvest garbanzo beans and lentils
We are also hosting our 2nd annual Dinner on the Farm on September 11th and 18th.  This year's guest list is, once again, quite amazing with a great cross section of guests.

2nd Annual Dinner on the Farm is coming this weekend!

Next Joe and I, along with a few other farm hosts will be in Washington, DC at the Urban Wheat Field.  There we will be on hand to answer questions and whatever duties are assigned to us.  For more background on that, visit

As farm hosts, we are being kept in the loop about the wheat's progress as pictured below. The wheat is being grown at the University of Maryland and will be transported to Washington, DC.  We were just updated that hurricane Earl is expected to miss their location and the wheat should not be affected. Yikes, with 3 weeks and counting, I am sure this was a knuckle biter for the event planners!  I think I can almost hear the sigh of relief from the Wheat Council knowing the wheat crop  is safe and will not be in the hurricane.     

Wheat being grown outside in pallets

Mature wheat moved inside to protect it from sun & heat

Please stay tuned for more pictures and updates on the garb harvest, the Dinner on the Farm and the Urban Wheat Field.

P.S.  In my earlier blog, I wrote about  our inspection of our farm by the Food Alliance inspector ( and just today we received our "certification" results and passed... whew!  Now all we need to do is sign the agreement and pay the fee, then we will officially we a certified farm .