Here in Extension, we believe in the spirit of the farm. For over 100 years we have been assisting farmers and ranchers, homeowners and organizations grow food. We have the best educational information and research to share to help those folks succeed – be better. In addition to teaching, we serve them as well by adapting to the community’s needs. In this case, assisting the homeowner who wants to grow food, but has no yard. Assisting the community that wants community gardens. Meeting the needs of a farmer to increase their yield. Working in a community to help eradicate a food desert. Our mission has always stayed the same, but our roles have changed as we work with the ever-increasing diversification of our food system. We are an active part of the local food system, and we celebrate all the others who are as well.
November 17 – 24, 2021 is Farm-City Week across the nation, which celebrates and recognizes the importance of all the people contributing to our safe and abundant food supply. Farm-City Week traditionally occurs the week before Thanksgiving and is fitting. On November 18, 2021, we partnered with the Orange County Farm Bureau and Orange County Cattlemen’s Association to host a Farm-City Week breakfast to raise awareness and share our gratitude to the farmers. Including our partners, we invited Orange County Administration and Board of County Commissioners and their Aides, Orange County Public School Administrators, rural farmers, urban farmers, and the Orange County Agricultural Advisory Board. We ate food grown on some of Orange County’s 662 farms, which produce a staggering $14.3 billion in agricultural products and employ over 221,346 people. These farms are essential to our County and economy.
Having the farmers be able to network and fellowship with others was the icing on the cake of this breakfast. We all matter in the mix, and it was great to see the wheels turn and the hands shake. We all need and rely on each other – it is a food ecosystem that we all play an important role in, from the farmer to processor to shipper to retailer to consumer…all are equally vital. We hailed all the benefits of food, but understood that there are opportunities to be better, not just for the farmer, but for the Orange County residents. The farmer has been steadfast, and we in Extension will continue to assist them in all facets to help them be better.
In a few days, on Thanksgiving, make sure that you include saying “thanks” to a farmer. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.