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Farm fresh

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 25, 2020 1:06 AM

Do you know where your food comes from?

With a wave of information about the commercial food industry coming to light, Linda Rider felt it was time to talk about the importance of small farms through her event, Meet a Farmer.

Rider first started her farm-to-table educational program after realizing most people don’t know how food is produced. Initially teaching fifth-graders from various Kootenai County school districts, Rider said she was approached by adults interested in furthering their knowledge.

“Within the agricultural industry, we have finally realized that we need to be telling our stories,” Rider said. “Things in the media are coming out saying factory farming is terrible and farmers are in it for money when with local ranchers that’s not true.”

Appealing to the older audience, Rider started the Meet a Farmer event sponsored by the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber, Kootenai-Shoshone Farm Bureau, Northwest Farm Credit Services, and the Kootenai County Fairgrounds. The program, which includes a tour of Rider Ranch, workshops, and homemade dinner, provides an opportunity to sit with local members of the agriculture community to learn about farming and food production.

“Most of these farmers are a part of family farms passed down through generations of hardworking people who work long hard hours to get things done,” Rider said. “It’s just a story that needs to be told and needs to have a face put to it so that when people think about where their food comes from, it’s not a grocery store.”

During the tour of Rider Ranch, owned by Rider’s husband’s family for over 68 years, participants will see a peak of ranch lifestyle. Experience how it feels raising cattle in North Idaho, agriculture’s connection to the forestry industry, the prevalence of hay production, and ride in a horse-drawn wagon.

“In this day and age, where people are looking for things that are grown locally, there is a pretty healthy market for meat in North Idaho,” Rider said. “Just looking at how farmers markets and stores have changed in the last year, it’s all determined on agriculture and how farmers are producing food.”

After the tour, participants will listen to four workshops about produce cultivation, farming on the North Idaho prairie, meat farming, and dairy production. Speakers such as Nikki Conley of Athol Orchards Antique Apple Farm & Bakery, Wally Meyers of Meyer Farm, and University of Idaho Professor Dr. Phil Bass will talk from their areas of expertise and how the agriculture industry is evolving.

“We’ve lost so much of our land, and unfortunately, agriculture is becoming a diminished industry,” Rider said. “All those fields used to be farmland growing apples, corn, wheat, but now most of it is houses that will never go back to producing food to eat.”

Dinner and a social hour will close out the night with farm-fresh grains, meat, and produce tying to information from the workshop presentations. With dinner, refreshments from Sheppard Fruit Wines in Harrison and Wallace Brewing will be offered.

“When people are looking at meat in the meat case or bread on the grocery store’s shelves, it is important they have some understanding of where that all comes from,” Rider said. “Farmers and farm families are just families like everyone else. They have a passion for producing good, healthy food for their families and everyone else.”

The daylong event runs Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with dinner served at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available for the whole day at $50, or the individual events for $10 to $30. Reservations through the Chamber office close Sept. 8.

Info: https://directory.cdachamber.com/events/details/meet-a-farmer-19299

photo

Nikki Conley, a first-generation farmer, inspects a yellow transparent apple tree at her 10-acre Athol Orchard Antique Apple Farm and Bakery on July 12, 2018m in Athol. Conley’s farm boasts antique apples and her homemade apple cider syrup. (LOREN BENOIT/Press File)