Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PA Farm Show 2014

On January 7th I made my annual trip to the PA Farm Show complex in Harrisburg, PA to attend the 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show. It’s the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation, with close to 6,000 animals and over 10,000 exhibits.

The highlight of the show for me is the 4-H livestock auction. 4-H is the nation’s largest youth organization administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture. Their mission is to "engage youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development. The name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health.” Kids who participate in 4-H learn how to tend to their animals from birth, and are responsible for feeding, cleaning and bedding the animal on a daily basis. In preparation for the show and auction, these young farmers groom and harness-train their animals in hopes of receiving Grand Champion honors from the Farm Show judges. Following judging, every animal is auctioned off to buyers, with the Grand Champion animals usually receiving the highest bids. This money goes directly to the 4-H participant, and is most often used to fund their future college education.

This is the reason that we love to participate in the 4-H auction – it’s a great way to support youths in our state, while also obtaining high-quality local meats. With the success of our FarmSource purchasing program, we want to encourage the development of local farms that may later become one of our suppliers, and this is one way of planting that seed. At this year’s auction, I purchased 12 hogs from youngsters throughout Pennsylvania, located within close proximity to one of our restaurants. Here are the kids we supported and the county where they reside:

Dilan Henry - Westmoreland
Scott Gardner - Fayette
Hannah Zundel - Westmoreland
Kaitlyn Ferko - Somerset
Courtney Hess - Erie
Dalton Stewart - Clarion
Kelly Pierce - Indiana
Dalton Bollman - Bedford
Evan Kamp - Berks
Nikolaus Smeal - Cambria
Paige Pearson - Blair
Jacob Schooley - Lawrence

It’s really rewarding for me to see these young soon-to-be farmers understanding and embracing a rewarding farm life. Hopefully I’ll be seeing them in a few years running their own farms or helping out at their family operation!

Until next time,

Jamie


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