Ag Literacy Resources: Where does my food come from?

As a farmer, I have a passion for Ag Literacy! I work with a couple of organizations working with Ag Literacy, volunteer in school organizations and am active with FFA, 4H and my County Fair. Extension has some great resources too.

I’d like to have ongoing information about Agriculture, but at this point I’d like to share some resources and lesson plans that are available.

ONLINE SEARCHES:

searching online for resources can be a tricky minefield these days. It is akin to seeking medical advise online- you may find that you are dying!! Hopefully I can help you find some resources that you can use.

  1. My first suggestion to you is check the terms. If any resource is using what I call ‘terror words’ then it is more likely they are trying to sway your opinion rather than teach. I think you can recognize these words easily enough. Be aware.
  2. Ag Literacy is a good search term. It allows you to find farmers and folks in the business of producing food to tell you what is happening in their world.
  3. Other good search terms: Agronomy, Soil Science, Seed Science, Seed Genetics, Animal Husbandry, Animal Science
  4. Farm Bureau is very active in the Ag Literacy movement so they might be a good place to look. I am an active member of Farm Bureau and am often confused with an insurance company agent, so please let me help define that ;):

American Farm Bureau is an organization is made up of farmers all across the country. We band together to help be one voice for ALL kinds of farming operations. We don’t promote only conventional or only organic or only livestock- but EVERYTHING farming. Ag Literacy is a major focus these days and Farm Bureau is getting involved.

Each state has a State Farm Bureau. (i.e. Iowa Farm Bureau, Florida Farm Bureau, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Kansas Farm Bureau) We grow food in every state, and each state has their own grass roots organization. (you can actually find one in each County (or most, I know Iowa has 99 counties and 100 County Farm Bureaus. Not sure about other states specifically))

American Farm Bureau Federation is the group of all state’s FB members (think federal  government and state government and county government) It is a similar system EXCEPT this is NOT a government entity at all but private citizens coming together as ONE VOICE for agriculture. Often to address government or citizens with its members’ voice.

FARMERS:

I follow a few individual farmers around the country just because they have taken an active role in showing us and telling us what they do. They share what happens on their farms, how and way they make certain decisions and sometimes have fun ways to share that.

I happen to follow many of them on Facebook because it is a ‘news feed’ I follow fairly regularly and I will get new stuff as it is posted. All of these folks have several ways to follow them whether it is blogs, youtube channels or something else. I’m going to share Facebook pages because I like to follow them there.

Peterson Farm Bros – these Kansas farmers have been making fun song parody videos to share their story, and have recently added written blogs.

Dairy Carrie– just like her name sounds- she is a dairy farmer. She shares her love for her girls (milking cows) and daily life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin

The Foodie Farmer– another family farmer on the east coast of the US. (Maryland maybe? I’m not sure. sorry.) She has a lot of good information on how her operations works and since she grows both Organic AND Conventional crops, we can learn about both operations here. She is also a part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed where there has been a lot of news and regulation in recent years.

There are others! These guys post often and I collect constant information just by following these three. They will often post great articles or link to other blogs posts worth your time and maybe someone else you would enjoy following. I know there are a few I read from time to time: I am agriculture Proud, Nurse Loves Farmer (Canada)

Resources:

My American Farm.org has interactive games, lesson plans and resources for home, school, and community.

Iowa Ag Literacy has lesson plans (some great ones for younger students especially) you might search your own state to learn more about crops grown in your area.

American Farm Bureau Agriculture Foundation is a foundation set up to make resources available for ag literacy.  There are free resources and lesson plans available here. There is also a great list of agriculturally accurate books and teacher books/lesson plant to go with them. They spend a great deal of time researching children’s books for accurate portrayal of farm and animals. For example- animals that are not animated or talking but animals being animals.

There are links to resources from Ag in the Classroom (this is a classroom program that has been a part of Farm Bureau for a long time and as demand for this information continues to expand, so does the program and websites.)

www.GMOanswers.com – there is certainly a lot of talk about GMO- do you know what it is and what it isn’t? This site has all kinds of folks from all kinds of ag fields answering any and all questions you have. Read through others questions, or ask one for yourself. Test your own knowledge.

Nutrients for Life is a foundation supplying FREE resources about soil and fertilizer among other things. Farmers make up only 2% of the population. It used to be that we were all connected to someone who farmed but now we are 3 generations removed. It is because we have all specialized- not just farmers and we all do what we do best and share it. Farm kids have grown up to leave the farm, get an education and work away from the farm. As a result- we (as a general class of people) don’t understand AGRONOMY (that is the study of SOIL) These resources help us understand why we fertilize- how important it is to have just the right amount- keeping the soil healthy is our number one objective- too much is wasteful, expensive and can affect other things like ground water. Farmers are careful to keep the soil, air and water healthy. It affects us every day and every generation.

Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation has some great teaching materials. If you are from Iowa, you’ve heard his name. Norman Borlaug spent his life farming and working against world hunger. He was recognized and honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for his work because there was not prize for working against hunger- so he started one. the World Food Prize. (headquarters is in Des Moines, Iowa and if you have the opportunity to stop in or schedule a tour- do it. It is amazing!) These materials teach about the man, Iowa history (because he is from Iowa) his lifelong passion to feed the world, the work he did, and the World Food Prize. This link is the curriculum package available FREE on the website. Here are related sites including World Food Prize.

TEXTBOOKS and Living Books:

Exploring Agriscience by Ray Herren is one we have used an enjoyed. We located a less expensive older, used edition, but I assume this one is even better 😉 *textbook

Life in a Bucket of Soil – this is geared toward young readers, and yet the information is pretty good. I kind of have a philosophy like this: if we haven’t learned it yet- then it is our level, and we’ll continue to build on it as much as we can find- curiosity being our guide. So, this may be labeled elementary but we’ve used it in middle school and early high school. It’s good information.

Farm Anatomy – this book is beautifully illustrated! It gives a great overview of things. Not very deep in its content but so beautifully done.

Soil by Richard Cromer seems to be an out of print 1960’s elementary science picture book. It’s pretty good. you might find something used. I happen to have an old library copy. Is it funny how these old elementary books cover more than today’s high school books in some ways… at any rate I think this has good information that can be easily understood and retained. I did find a generic re-print? not sure but it doesn’t look like mine yet has the same name and author!  here.

www.friendlyanatomy.com is BOVINE (cattle) anatomy. good stuff!

Botany by Ellen J McHenry is a really fun study of plants! I used this as part of my Biology curriculum.

I did a Biotech unit in my Biology curriculum that used this printable resource from Ag Literacy Foundation

My children duel enrolled with the local school to participate in the FFA organization. It has been very helpful for them in learning about Agriculture and Leadership.

 ****** READ THIS!******

Articles, videos and blog posts I enjoyed:

‘Allergic to All Known Chemicals?’ – Forbes Magazine by Henry I. Miller

RoundUp: What It Is (and what it isn’t)

It’s Practically Impossible to define “GMOs”

How My Visit to a Small Farm Led to a Food Attitude Change

What is a GMO? by Piffle

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3 thoughts on “Ag Literacy Resources: Where does my food come from?

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