#Thankful4Ag Tells Story of Georgia Kale Grower
- Allison Floyd, Growing America
Joe Baker isn’t the type of farmer most people picture when they imagine agriculture in the Deep South. He doesn’t grow cotton or peanuts or soybeans. He doesn’t spend his time working with peaches or pecans or blueberries.
His daddy grew some of the traditional crops – tobacco, as well as cotton, peanuts, corn and squash – but when Baker returned from college in 1989, that type of farming didn’t fit him.
“I didn’t care much about row crops. I’ve always been interested in vegetables,” said Baker, who is one of the farmers featured in Bayer CropScience’s #Thankful4Ag campaign.
Twenty-five years later, Baker grows all kinds of greens, in addition to cilantro, beets, cabbage, spinach and more on 3,500 acres near Norman Park in South Georgia.
“We started out growing mostly cucumber, eggplant, some squash and peppers, but have evolved,” Baker said. “There were just so many people doing that. It was a fluke that we found something as successful as greens, and kale in particular. We were just looking for do something different.”
With the prospect of a permanent drought in California, greens have become more important in the Southeast, where farmers have relatively more reliable access to irrigation.
Georgia has become the second largest kale producing state in the nation (behind California) so when Bayer CropScience began to choose farmers to highlight in 2015, the company decided to pick a kale grower rather than a producer who specializes in a more traditional commodity. With the stories of nearly a dozen farmers from around the country, Bayer also found a unique way to get consumers engaged in hearing their tales.
Like popular social media quizzes that allow people to find out what movie character, animal or historic figure they’d be, the #Thankful4Ag campaign invites people to go online and find out what type of farmer they’d be.
Deep down, are you a corn grower from Illinois, like Lowell Loerger or a potato producer from Idaho like Patrick Lankford?
Jeff Donald, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience, was surprised to learn that he would be an apple grower from New York.
One of the things we really strive to do at Bayer is to try to figure out how to make connections between the general public who may not be aware of the challenges involved in ag and farmers,” Donald said. “We developed the #Thankful4Ag campaign with that in mind, but also as a way to show the contribution that farmers make to improving our lives and feeding people.”
To take the quiz “What type of farmer are you?” go to www.Thankful4Ag.com.
The Thankful4Ag campaign is meant to raise awareness with people who are disconnected from the farm, but also to raise money for Feeding America, a network of 200 food pantries around the country.
Each time someone takes the quiz and shares the results, or uses the hashtag #Thankful4Ag, Bayer CropScience donates $1, or 11 meals to Feeding America, up to 330,000 meals.
Source: Growing Georgia