Embracing an Opportunity in Agriculture
This feature is part of a series of blog posts spotlighting the unique members of the AgVocate Facebook community for their efforts to educate, share and help bridge the gap between consumers and the agriculture community. This April, we are happy to highlight Nathan Brown, a 1st generation farmer from Ohio. Follow him on Facebook at @brownfarms04.
Hard work, determination, patience, a little luck and a willingness to step out into the unknown have gotten me to where I am today. I have learned over my years that life is not about what you are given but more about what you do with those opportunities that defines who you are. I have always felt that the things that define you turn out to be the things that deserve extra time and commitment to preserve and protect.
Growing up, I would watch my cousins farm around our house and always dreamed that I would get the opportunity to do the same one day. Little did I know, my dreams would come true.
The opportunity to farm my own crop came in the spring of 2002 when a neighbor allowed me to farm one of their fields that they were not using. I remember being so excited and so scared at the same time, but once that first seed went into the soil I knew I was born to be a farmer. That year I planted and harvested 25 acres of soybeans.
Today our operation consists of 1,150 acres of corn and soybeans located in southwest Ohio. In additional, we custom plant and harvest 300 acres of land for local neighbors each year. Along with the crops, we have a cow calf operation with 30 momma cows, and we bale approximately 50 acres of hay to feed our herd. We recently purchased our first farm, a grain storage facility, and are continuing to grow.
Preserving a Legacy
When we started, we would till our land before planting and that freshly plowed soil was one of my favorite smells in the spring. As our operation began to grow, we changed more of our land to no-till and began to farm more with less labor. We noticed that the soils were living again. By that, I mean that when you take a shovel full of our soil, you see roots, worms, worm holes and castings. A healthy living soil is a soil that takes less to maintain and it actually will increase its output just by nurturing and treating it right. Now we’re implementing cover crops to help us feed the soil, hold our nutrients and soil, and that makes us that much more sustainable so that the next generation has the same or better resources as we have had.
Becoming an AgVocate
I am passionate about farming and agriculture and I know what lengths I go through to produce a safe and healthy crop. I have learned over the years that less than 2% of the population is involved in the production of agriculture and a small percentage of those are telling their stories. That means that most of the population is 3 to 4 generations removed from the farm gate. In 2011, when my twin sons were born, I realized how important it was to be involved in both agvocating for agriculture and advocating for a better community where my kids can grow up.
I love that I can pull my phone out and get a selfie with a new baby calf, a shot of my cover crop shining in the sun, a snap of the broken down combine, or a picture of the glorious sunset that I get to witness every day and share instantly through social media.
I first heard about agvocating and telling my story about 10 years ago at a Young Ag Professionals conference put on by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. I really didn’t know what good it would do or even where to start telling my story but I knew it was something I had to do more. To me, agvocating isn’t about trying to prove that you are right, it’s about sharing what you do with your friends and neighbors so that they feel comfortable about the choices I make to produce the food that they eat.
Involvement in organizations such as Farm Bureau, commodity groups like Corn Growers and Cattlemen’s associations have allowed me to develop the skills I need to successfully express my concerns at the local, state, and national level to our elected officials.
As I agvocate for agriculture, I am also standing up for rural communities. I believe that change comes from those that show up and are willing to give of themselves for the betterment of others. I encourage you to be aware of your representation throughout all levels of government, and make it known how you feel about issues that affect your life.
Being involved in farming has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. There have been many times that I felt I didn’t have the hard work, determination, patience, luck, and the willingness to step out into the unknown for me to continue; but I’m glad that I did. I am blessed with a healthy family and the ability to do what I love, and love what I do. I’m happy that I can share this journey with my family, friends, social media community, and even the elected officials that represent me. Agvocating is as easy as breathing when you’re sharing your passion!
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