“The Dirt” on our new guest blogger
Greetings! My name is Eileen, and I’ll be a guest blogger this summer on The Dirt.
I’m from an Ayrshire dairy farm in Wayne County, and am an intern at the Ohio Department of Agriculture as part of my education at the Ohio State University. This summer, you’ll have a chance to see agriculture from my perspective, as a fourth-generation agriculturalist. I’m a past 4-Her (11 years!) and FFA member (4 years and an American Degree recipient), and have served on several national committees for the US Ayrshire Breeder’s Association, as well as serving a term as the National Ayrshire Queen in 2012.
I love agriculture. It might be a product of where I grew up – Wayne County is a hotspot for agriculture in Ohio, with the state’s largest concentration of dairy cattle and serving as home to the state’s largest junior fair. We also are amongst the top producing counties for corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, and turn out quite a lot of wheat and oats too.
Growing up, I knew not only where my food came from, but how the land and animals it came from were treated. I knew that seeing a gallon of Smith Dairy milk on store shelves meant that the milk was locally produced – it may even have come from my family’s farm. The burgers we ate at lunch were from our own heifers, the steaks came from my uncle’s longhorn cattle, and the wine we had at family gatherings came from my aunt’s winery – though, of course, I didn’t ever get a taste until I turned 21.
I realized at a young age that the way I cared for my cows impacted the quality products they made. A happy, healthy cow means wholesome, nutritious milk. This knowledge affected the way I looked at food from then on: Farmers all across the nation are giving the best care possible to their animals – whether they be chickens, beef cattle, sheep, or pigs – not because of their bottom line, but because it’s what they love to do.
This summer, I’m going to interview farmers from different walks of life, from Wayne County and beyond, and share with you their knowledge and insights into the world of production agriculture. I hope you’ll read along, ask questions, and start discussions with your own family around the dinner table. Every food you eat has a story, and I’m excited to help tell it.