I seriously could not be more excited to kick off the new Ask Me About My Farm Series. GAHH! It's finally here! (Insert confetti poppers, balloons, and air horns here) Thank you to the 85+ gals who sent me messages and e-mails detailing their passion and drive for agriculture. You Rock. Seriously.
Every couple of weeks I will be introducing you to a new gal in agriculture--highlighting her unique story.
This week I want to introduce the world to Amanda Brodhagen. Her drive and passion for "agvocating" across North America is unmatched, and she is enthusiastic about her message.
Who: Amanda Brodhagen
Where: Brunner, Ontario (She says this is close to where Justin Beiber grew up...I wonder if she has Beiber Fever?!)
Farms What: Cattle, Crops
Job: Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
Fact: She is the fifth generation of her family involved on the farm
Interests: Degree in Political Science, has worked in politics and on campaigns. Enjoys crafting and baking. Currently involved in Junior Farmers' Association of Ontario (Executive Director of Marketing)
Nickname: Madam Marketing
Amanda has offered to share her story with us as a guest blogger, so without further ado, I think I will hand it on over to Amanda.
Sometimes in order to have a meaningful conversation with someone about food or farming you have to be bold.
This statement could not be truer for farmers and those involved in the agricultural industry. I can tell you from my own personal experience that it can be hard emotionally to hear criticism or misconceptions about an industry that I am so passionate about. Though I have chosen to see these situations as an opportunity for me to channel my energy into having a two-way conversation with people who are genuinely interested in learning more about how food is produced on the farm or about agriculture in general.
This is why I absolutely love the “Ask Me About My Farm” t-shirt. It can help spur those conversations. I have found that people often have questions about farm life but do not know who to ask, often resorting to Google and social media to get the answers to their questions. I look forward to wearing this tee out in public. It will be interesting to see how many people read what it says and ask the question. (If I get another opportunity to do a follow up post, I will be sure to let you know how this experiment goes!)
be bold, be you. Do not be afraid to stand out. Tell your story because you can make a real difference.
Given what you have read so far, you know that I have a farm. I will now pretend that you just asked me about my farm. Let me tell you a little bit about it.
I am a proud fifth generation farmer from Brunner, Ontario. For those of you who do not know where that is it is close to Stratford, home of the pop star singer, Justin Bieber. If you are not fan, please do not hold that against me!
On my family’s farm we have beef cattle, more specifically a commercial cow-calf operation. For the non-aggies reading this post, it means that we have a herd of cows that produce calves to later be sold to another farmer who specializes in backgrounding or finishing cattle. We keep some of the female calves, known as heifers to replace older cows for breeding.
We also grow crops on my farm including, corn, mixed grain and hay, while also managing pasture fields for the cows to graze on.
I enjoy caring for our livestock. It is hard for me to explain, but being around cattle just makes me happy. Working with my family raising cattle and farming together as a team also brings me a great sense of joy.
I have had people ask me: why do you farm? I tell them if not me then who? I feel that raising livestock and caring for the land and environment is my responsibility. Generations of my family have done it and with that comes important knowledge that has been passed down on from generation to generation, a unique skills set (farming is highly technical), and a strong connection to caring for animals and the environment because I want to preserve it for future generations.
Due to several factors including, size, commodity type (the cattle market is a volatile business), and the stage that our farm’s succession plan is at I also work off the farm too. This is necessary for me right now, but it might not be like this forever.
I live a dual lifestyle. Part of the week I am on the farm, while the other half I live in the city. I am what you would call a part-time farmer. My dad farms full time, my mom works off the farm as a school teacher and my brother is high functioning Autistic (he took these photos of me) and has his own greenhouse on the farm. He is a horticulture technician, while cattle is my passion, plants (floral) is more his thing.
When I am not farming, I am an agriculture communicator. I work for a farm-lobby group called the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. While I love my steak, this job allows me to advocate for farmers representing the other half of the dinner plate. It is a fun and rewarding job because I am working for farmers so that they can focus on what they do best: growing food.
I also work on a very part-time basis at a feed mill near my family’s farm in consumer service. I like to joke that I get paid to socialize with my neighbours because it is true! Since this blog series is all about putting a spotlight on women in agriculture, it is worth mentioning that I am one of three women that work at the feed mill. When I first started the job I would chuckle at the customers that would offer to push the feedbag cart around for me. It was a nice gesture, but I like to do my job. I suspect that they just were not use to seeing a woman in that role. That has since changed!
Back to being bold.
In all that I do in life, I put my whole heart into it whether that is in the multiple jobs that I do or in my relationships with people. Building relationships is important to me, including those on social media. I made the decision a handful of years ago to be bold, put myself out there and share my passion with others.
I am always sharing photos and stories on multiple social media platforms including, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Thanks to pushing myself out of my comfort zone I have formed new friendships and have had some great conversations with people from all walks of life about agriculture. I try to speak from the heart by being my authentic self and illustrate my stories with photos whenever I can.
My call to action to you is: be bold, be you. Do not be afraid to stand out. Tell your story because you can make a real difference. If you don’t you risk letting others define you before you can define yourself!