In an effort to enhance the understanding of where the food that citizens are eating comes from, a collaborative effort has been established by the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois corn, soybean, beef and pork producers. Field Moms is comprised of mothers from urban areas such as Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
This is the inaugural group of Field Moms, who’s nine members were given a tour Saturday of a soybean plot, a sweet corn plot and a first-hand observation of various conservation practices applied to farmland. Field Moms is a group open to any mother interested in learning more about agriculture and the work that goes into the meals they prepare for their families.
Many local farm families open their doors for the Field Moms to make a field trip to their operations. On Saturday, Field Moms met for the third time since the group was established. This time, the family having the tour was Ron and Deb Moore, whose farm is located just north of Roseville, making this tour the farthest journey thus far for the Field Moms.
Field Moms were given soybeans similar to those planted in the plot of the land they studied. They have been growing the beans in pots at their homes. Although the moms’ plants are unable to obtain as much sunlight as the field plants due to their urban location, many of the moms are happy to have seen growth from their beans.
The organizers of Field Moms hope to expand the program to encompass the entire state, as they have had much positive reception for the first year of the program.
According to Amy Thompson, president of the Farm Bureau for Warren and Henderson counties, “it is just as beneficial for us as it is for them. We also get to learn about Chicago life. It is a two-way street.”
Thompson said the program has calmed many of the fears the mothers had about their food, because it allows them to ask questions and receive answers from the actual people growing the food.
“These are educated women who have questions and make up their minds on their own,” said Thompson.
Organizers of Field Moms hope that after the group has completed its tours, they will return home and share the information they have gained with their friends and families. Those in charge of Field Moms wish to reach a much larger audience and expand the number of moms in the group. Eventually, they hope to create a similar group for fathers as well. One organizer said, “There are plenty of people in every county that do not know where their food comes from.”
The first tour Field Moms took in October was a trip to see cattle, raised for both beef and dairy. During the field trip, the moms also examined a corn field, and were given the chance to ride in a combine, an opportunity most city dwellers never receive.
The second tour in March brought the moms to a hog confinement operation to see the process that goes in to creating the pork they serve.
A vital asset for Field Moms is the blog which both the farmers and the moms write for after the tours end. The moms describe their impressions of the tours and any knowledge they acquired. The website of Field Moms program is www.watchusgrow.org.
Along with the blogs, it also contains biographies of the moms and the farming families, videos from past tours, topics of interest and the ability to ask any question about farm families, the moms or the agricultural process.
One mother, Amy Rossi, who is a stay-at-home mom with six children, ages 3 to 15, was interested in learning about agriculture technology.
“I also pictured farming as being simple, but I was wrong.” Rossi said. “The combine is able to drive itself.”
Rossi has already begun putting the knowledge she has acquired to use, as she is much more selective as to which products she purchases to feed her family.