It’s no secret that farmers and others in agriculture are some of the biggest, most dedicated sports fans around. Whether it’s football, baseball or basketball, we like rooting for our teams whenever the opportunity presents itself!
It’s also no secret that farmers love sharing their own farm stories and showing how they’re doing their part to provide safe, wholesome food for all of us. Recently, Missouri hog farmer Chris Chinn had the opportunity to tell her story and draw on her family’s love of baseball at the same time. Read her story, in her own words.
Each year, Missouri Farmers Care chooses farm families to be featured in the Safe at the Plate campaign with Matt Holliday and the St. Louis Cardinals. Four families are chosen annually to be the Farm Family of the Year, and this year we were the pork family. In April, we were invited to spend a day at the ball stadium with Matt Holliday and the other farm families. We did a photo shoot, radio ads and stayed for the ball game later that night. I participated in two round table events in September that took place prior to Cardinal ball games with influencer groups (chefs, culinary school instructors, grocery retailers, bloggers). We visitied about our farms and explained how we raise our livestock and answered several great questions. It was very informal and a very comfortable atmosphere. After the round table event, which was held in the stadium, we went to a reserved room and watched the game with the participants. This allowed us to have more one-on-one time with each other and to build a relationship.
In late May, Fred Bird, the Cardinal mascot, visited our farm and spent the day learning about what we do. We spent the first part of our day showing Fred Bird inside of our hog barns and we explained our biosecurity protocols, which means how clean we keep our farm. Once Fred Bird had on clean clothes and shoes, we started our tour of the barns. Fred Bird came on a weaning day so there was lots of activity. He watched the weaning process and then he jumped in and helped Kevin, Rachelle and Conner move weaned pigs from the barns onto a trailer. After the pigs
were on the trailer, Fred Bird helped the kids move the sows from the farrowing house and into the breeding barn. Once we were done weaning, it was time to learn how to make feed. We went to our feed mill where Fred Bird learned all about what we feed the hogs and how we make the feed.
Having Fred Bird visit our farm was the highlight of our summer. As farmers, it’s hard to find time for family vacations and this year was no exception. We didn’t take a vacation, but our kids were not disappointed because having Fred Bird visit our farm was better than any vacation. Our kids loved showing Fred Bird where we live and work. And of course, Fred Bird is a very light-hearted and funny bird who loves to play jokes and make people laugh. I think it was one of the best days we have ever had on the farm and one everyone will remember. There were lots of laughs and smiles that day. He gave the kids autographed Fred Bird baseball cards and a Matt Holliday autographed bat when he left. Three weeks ago, we went to a Cardinals game and Fred Bird saw our kids and came running up to them and gave them hugs and, of course, he “beaked” them. He remembered his visit to our farm and he was thrilled to see the kids. Our family will cherish the memories we made that day with Fred Bird. We still laugh and talk about all of the funny tricks Fred Bird played on us that day.
You can see what Fred Bird learned at Chris’s farm by watching Safe at the Plate – Pork. Her storytelling doesn’t stop here, either. Chris is active with her blog and on Twitter. Every day is an opportunity to be an “agvocate” and she’s a great example of that.
What other great examples of advocacy have you seen? Are you connecting seemingly different worlds, like pig farming and baseball, to share your story?