If you follow me on social media at all then you probably saw a series of posts from the Butler County Farm to Fork Tour and dinner that Dean and I recently went on. It was such a jam packed day that I have even more content I’d like to share with you! First, this was the 6th Annual Farm to Fork event. The event is a fundraiser for “Ag in the Classroom” in Butler County and hosted by the Butler County Farm Bureau Association. We were also joined by Kansas Farm Bureau board members and administrators. I learned on the tour that the KFB is a group that helps Kansas farm families through advocacy, education, and service. We started our day at Fulton Valley Farms in Towanda, where our tour bus for the day picked us up!
It was an early start to the day, by 9 am we were at the Butler Community College Ag Facility in El Dorado. Did you know that they were named the Best Junior College Ag Program in the entire country in 2008? They currently have between 150-200 Ag students and about 70% of them go onto 4 year universities following their time there. One of our tour guides told us that the fastest growing area of technology is actually agriculture. He also said that agriculture as a career field is a solid choice because it’s “one field that will never be obsolete.” Overall, I was very impressed by the Butler CC Ag Program. Pictured below is their 1000 square foot high tunnel house that students use during the growing season.
From Butler CC we headed to Griggs Bros Vegetable Farm in Douglass. As impressive as Butler’s 1000 square foot high tunnel house was, Griggs Bros grows tomatoes in 16 different 3000 square foot high tunnels. That is a lot of tomatoes!
From Griggs Bros we rushed to beat the rain to our lunch host, Flutter Bye Ranch in Leon. We had a delicious lunch and heard from a few great speakers. One speaker that really stood out to me was Rick McNary, who started the Shop Kansas Farms Facebook group last year (at the height of COVID). His group has grown to 148 thousand members and many farmers have reported exponential growth since using it. They are soon rolling out a shopping feature on their website and I just love this home grown effort to match buyers and sellers!
After lunch we ventured over to Korte Farms in Latham. I loved that this was a multi-generational operation. We heard from two brothers and one of their sons who plans to continue on in the family hay business.
From Korte Farms we stopped at probably our favorite farm, Ferrell Ranch in Beaumont. It wasn’t just my favorite because they gave me wine and a farm fresh picnic. It was my favorite because they are practicing sustainable farming. Sustainable farming is something my husband and I have studied at length. It’s all about a triple bottom line, or doing what is best for buyer, seller, and the environment.
You can see in the photo below just one of the wind turbines on Ferrell Ranch. When questioned about his decision to put the wind farm in place, Mr. Ferrell responded, “it was a no brainer, wind blows even during a drought!” I just loved that answer. Sometimes farming really is as simple as working with what nature provides you!
After Ferrell Ranch, we headed back to Fulton Valley Farms for a farm to table dinner. The dinner was prepared by students in the Butler CC Culinary Program. A good friend of ours, Chef Luis Pena, just took over the program. He and his wife Alicia are both working to make this program a top of the line choice in the midwest. I can’t wait to see what they will do with it! If you or perhaps a student you know is interested in pursuing a career in either agriculture or culinary studies, I highly suggest looking into Butler CC!
XO – Olivia