Beck's Blog

From Our Family Farm to Yours

1

Sep

2016

Ag Education

Tall Corn

It’s back to school time in central Indiana, and one of my favorite parts of going back to school was summer break show and tell. One of our favorite things to show and tell here at Beck's is our tall corn. The tallest corn in the state, as a matter of fact. Beck's has entered the Indiana State Fair Tall Corn Contest in each of the past three years, and has won each year. This year’s plant is an impressive 25 feet, 4.25 inches tall from the ground to the tip of the tassel. This corn isn’t the high-yielding hybrid corn adapted to the Midwest that we spend most of our time with – this is a special exotic line from South America. 

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5

Aug

2016

Intern Avenue

Experiencing a Sales Internship

Author: Celina Young

When many people think of an internship in agriculture, they probably think of sales. At Beck’s, these interns have the opportunity to travel the Midwest and learn a wide variety of skills while working in the field. This week, I reached out to a few of our sales interns to tell me about some of the exciting things that they get to do on a daily basis.

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3

Aug

2016

Ag Education

Why Corn?

This is the time of year that one can watch the corn grow week by week, as the plants busily convert sunshine and fresh air into feed and food. The roots are mining the soil to support leaves reaching high into the air in an effort to shade out competition. The plants are doing their best to take over the world, the only way they know how. Even those not involved with agriculture at all associate rural America with mile after mile of corn fields. Everyone is so busy tending crop and thinking ahead to the next task that they seldom stop to ask themselves: Why corn?

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27

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Virginia Farmer, Coley Drinkwater

Coley Drinkwater is a world traveler, entrepreneur and dairy farmer. Every morning her alarm goes off at 3:19 a.m. to start another day working alongside her family at Richlands Dairy Farm. This isn’t how she always pictured her life, but she loves it.


“I went to school for human nutrition, food and exercise because we weren’t encouraged to come back to the farm. I was thinking about doing occupational therapy when I graduated, but I would have to go on full-time for another two and a half years for occupational therapy. I was like, ‘I just want a break from school.’ I’d always wanted to travel the world, so I thought, ‘If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it now while I don’t have any real responsibilities to anyone.’ I worked as a waitress and saved my tips for a year and a half, and then bought a plane ticket and went around the world. It was just awesome. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I got home in early August and they were getting ready to start chopping corn. My dad needed help and I was broke. I already knew how to do what we were doing so he wasn’t going to have to train anybody. I needed the money and I could live for free at my parents’ house, so I started working for him. Then I was like, ‘I always enjoyed the farm. I don’t know if I really want to go back to school.’ I took that time to decide, ‘Is this what I want to do? Is this where my heart is? Or is this going to be the kick in the butt I need to go to grad school.’ I’ve been here ever since. I just fell in love with it.”

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25

Jul

2016

Intern Avenue

My Interview with Sonny Beck

Author: Celina Young

A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to have a conversation with Sonny Beck, CEO of Beck’s. Going into this meeting, my goal was to uncover what it was about this company’s leadership that has allowed Beck’s to help farmers succeed for almost 80 years. I could not have prepared myself for the direction the conversation would go. Sonny shared various stories about his role in the company over the years, as well as passing along some inspiration and words of wisdom. Now, I’d like to pass that advice along to you.

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22

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Delaware Farmer, Marie Mayor

For some, farming is a lifelong dream. For others, it’s an unexpected blessing. That’s the case for Marie Mayor, co-owner of Lavender Fields at Warrington Manor. She never imagined that a simple trip to tell a moving friend goodbye would open the door for her to begin farming.

“I became a farmer when I was about 56. I retired from the federal government. I had been in education for 42 years, I think. Now I’m here. My partner, Sharon, and I have been doing this for 14 years. We came out here to buy a lavender plant and the farmer was moving. She was getting married and moving to Australia to grow lavender there. We came to tell her goodbye. She said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. My farm deal fell through yesterday.’ Sharon and I said, ‘Who’s your realtor?’ Just on the spur of the moment we bought a farm. It’s absolutely the truth and I tell the story because I still can’t believe I did it.”

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21

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Delaware Farmer, Brian Hearn

You don’t have to grow up on a farm to fall in love with agriculture. Brian Hearn, farm manager at the University of Delaware, is living proof.

“I never really grew up on a farm, but I always worked on farms. My grandfather had a very small farm. He had a few chicken houses and five acres to till. It was like a five-acre garden. When I was little, I’d play in the garden.” From there, Brian went on to work for farmers in his area.

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18

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Maryland Farmer, Jennifer Debnam

Jennifer Debnam has never pictured herself as anything other than a farmer. When she’s not in the breeding barn, she’s likely helping the next generation of farmers through Farm Bureau, 4-H, or on her own family’s farm.

“I grew up on a farm. We didn’t live in this area of Maryland. We lived in Howard County. That’s between Baltimore and Washington D.C., very close to Columbia, Maryland.” Jennifer recalls. As development in the area increased, and rented crop land was sold, the family had to make some difficult decisions. “I was in high school, my sister was in middle school, and my brother was somewhere between us. My parents sat us down at the kitchen table and said ‘We have enough to farm here for the rest of our lives. But if you guys want to farm we probably need to move.’ What did we know? We were like, ‘Sure we want to farm!’ It took us about two seconds to get that answer. Dad had always hunted in this area and said, ‘I know where I’d like to go.’ So we ended up here in Kennedyville.”

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13

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Maryland Farmer, Hannah Cawley

Growing up on a farm is a unique privilege. For Maryland cucumber farmer, Hannah Cawley the farm is where her first lessons in hard work, patience, and teamwork were learned. Following in her father’s footsteps and working alongside her family taught Hannah commitment.

Hannah was raised on a diversified farm in Caroline County, Maryland. The area offers sandy soil and a favorable climate for produce. “We till about 1,000 acres of corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, peas, and sweet corn but our big thing is cucumbers. This year we’re going to plant somewhere around 1,300 or 1,400 acres of cucumbers.” Hannah’s farm can raise two crops of cucumbers per year, thanks to their seasons. Most other cucumber producing states only have the right weather conditions for one harvest a year.

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13

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Pennslyvania Farmer, Tad Kuntz

“You do it because you like it, not because you want to get rich. It’s not for the short hours.” Tad Kuntz says growing fruit is in his blood. “I’m a 4th generation fruit grower. I grew up on a farm north of Gettysburg, about a 600 acre orchard. My dad, my two uncles and my grandfather were fruit growers. My great-grandfather was too, but I never met him. My grandfather and father taught me pretty much everything I needed to know to be in the business. I went to college and majored in horticulture just to learn why you do it the way they told me to do it. Most of my education came from them.”

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12

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Virginia Farmer, M.L. Everett

“Experience is the best teacher.” M.L. Everett counts himself lucky to have the experiences of generations before him on top of his own to guide his decisions for the family’s diversified farm in Virginia. M.L. says, “A lot of farmers this day in time will tell you, ‘I’m not self-made. I have a good start from previous generations.’ A farmer has to know a lot about a lot of different things. He’s got to be a scientist, electrician, a plumber, a mechanic, a carpenter. Those trades have been passed on from generation to generation. Each builds on what the previous generation had learned through experiences.”

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8

Jul

2016

Intern Avenue

The Life of a Beck’s Research Intern

Author: Celina Young

This summer, ten college students from the across the Beck’s marketing area have joined the team as research interns. Divided between four Beck’s locations from Indiana to Iowa, they are gaining experience while learning in a hands-on environment. From planting test plots to collecting real data in the field, each intern has a unique experience to share. Today, we’ll catch up with four of these individuals as they progress through their internships.

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8

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Virginia Farmer, Sarah Leonard

Sarah Leonard's family has been on the same farm for 100 years. “The farm was given to my great grandmother as a wedding present, and then they kept buying land,” beamed Sarah. Over the last century, a lot has changed for the Virginia farmers, including their neighbors. Busy roads and big cities surround the farm now. They couldn’t pick up their milk cows, beef cattle or row crops to move, so the family’s only choice was to adapt to their changing surroundings. “We’ve chosen to embrace our neighbors, and we enjoy it.”

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8

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Pennsylvania farmers, Adam and Diana Dellinger

After moving all around the country for their jobs with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agency in 2013, Adam and Diana Dellinger were ready for something different. So, they decided to start their own hops farm in Carlisle, Pennsylvania called Sunny Brae Hops. “We don’t fit into any of the normal farming boxes.” Diana laughs.

“We started thinking about homesteading and definitely knew we wanted to do that whenever we finally got a piece of property. Adam was starting to get antsy to do something different with his time than being at the office. He was getting tired of that kind of life, but we weren’t ready at that point to do anything about it so he stuck it out until we moved back to Pennsylvania. Even then we didn’t make the jump right away, because it takes quite a leap of faith to say, ‘I’m going to leave my salary job to go farm.’ Everyone looks at you like you’re crazy because it’s hard to make money farming. It took us a long time to get where we are today, and even now we’re just in the beginning stages of the farm.”

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5

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Pennsylvania Farmer, Haldeman Farms

Just like other businesses, many farms work best when each person is in charge of something different. At Haldeman Farms in Pennsylvania each member of the team has a specific set of responsibilities matched with their talents. Brothers Gern and Tim Haldeman, and Martha Graybill each have very different roles on the farm, but together, their efforts are what make the large family farm work.

For Gern, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was never even a question. He always knew he was going to farm.

“I don’t remember what grade it was, but when I was in elementary school the teacher had us imagine what we were going to be or what we were going to do when we grew up. I remember saying, ‘I don’t need to do this because I know what I’m going to do.’ And the teacher said, ‘You don’t know what you’re going to do.’ I said, ‘No. I know what I’m going to do.’ She said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘I’m going to be a farmer.’ That still didn’t get me out of the exercise. I had no idea how, when or where it was going to happen, but I knew somehow I was going to be a farmer because that’s who I was, that’s all I enjoyed, that’s what I did.”

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2

Jul

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: LEAF Project Founder, Heidi Witmer

As farmers do their job, they aren’t just raising crops. They’re growing communities and building up the next generation. Heidi Witmer had that in mind when she started LEAF in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“LEAF stands for Leadership, Education and Farming. At the core of it, it’s about cultivating young leaders through the meaningful work of raising food. On a deeper level, as a farmer there’s this idea that you’re in partnership with potential. Any seed that you’re touching already knows what it’s going to be, but the fullness and the depth of its abundance is the farmers’ job. I’ve been an educator most of my life, and I felt really strongly that our most important crop, our young people, weren’t getting that level of cultivation. They already have their potential, they already have their strength, they’re on their path, but we sometimes weren’t exposing them to appropriate adversity at the right times or really fertilizing their soil in the way we should be.”

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1

Jul

2016

Intern Avenue

Life Lessons and Personal Development

Author: Celina Young

“Having a project and opportunities for personal development are what makes an internship different from summer work.” Those are the words of Beck’s intern coordinator, Samantha Miller.

After last week, I would say that mission is accomplished! For two days, Beck’s 30 summer interns came together in Atlanta, Indiana for a chance to network and improve ourselves through various sessions. 

The event was packed full with a wide variety of opportunities, from assessing how we work with others, to a Q&A with Beck’s President and CEO. This is just one of the many ways that Beck’s invests in their interns. I learned a lot in this time, but I wanted to share some of my key takeaways with you.

 

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30

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Delaware Farmer, Walter Hopkins

Growing up, coming back to the family dairy farm in Delaware is the last thing Walter Hopkins imagined for himself. Life worked out a little differently than he pictured, but that’s what makes it enjoyable.

“As a kid I worked my butt off and was hell bent I was going to get off this farm. I went off to university and majored in ag engineering. After having a summer job in that, I decided that home wasn’t all that bad after all. I graduated from college and went into the service. When I came back from Vietnam, I came directly to the farm and never looked back. That was in 1971, better than 40 years ago.”

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28

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Ohio Farmers, Keith and Beverly Schmidt

Farming is all Keith Schmidt ever wanted to do. Today he farms with his son in southeast Ohio, but his dream didn’t happen overnight. It wouldn’t have been possible without a community.

Growing up, Keith was active in FFA and worked for older farmers in his area, which nurtured his desire to be in agriculture. “I pull out all my goal setting things from FFA and they all say the same thing. Farm.”

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24

Jun

2016

Why I Farm

Beck's Why I Farm Roadtrip: Maryland Farmer, Robert Black

Tucked between the mountains, in a little town of Thermont, Maryland lies a colorful orchard. Throughout the season, locals come to enjoy berries, apples and apricots. Busloads of school children come each year to learn about Catoctin Mountain Orchard. Robert Black and his sister, Pat, take pride in growing fresh fruits and vegetables as the second generation on the family farm.

“My dad got the farm in 1961. In the beginning, my father had worked for the gentleman that was here, Mr. Kelbaugh. Mr. Kelbaugh had no children and my father just got more interested in it, so Kelbaugh and my father worked out a deal if my father did a really good job of managing it, he would help share in the profits and that’s how my father got this farm. It’s kind of unique.”

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