At the core of community is the sharing of food. A farmer’s market is a shared space wherein folks meet face to face and talk about food. Perhaps this explains why the number of farmer’s markets nationwide have increased from 1755 in 1996 to 8,144 in 2013. A farmer’s market connects people together. A farmer’s market provides space for friendly conversations with folks who actually have grown, harvested and prepared food. Folks at a farmer’s market share not only the food itself, but also information about how the food is grown and prepared. Shoppers at a farmer’s market can ask questions and express their preferences in face to face conversations with vendors.
‘Walkable space’ is a term used by city planners and developers to refer to a shared space within community that is accessible on foot. There’s really nothing new about this concept—in plain English, we call this space a “park”. Such shared spaces seem to connect people together and enhance the quality of life in a community. Here in DeWitt our farmer’s market is centrally located on the east side of Lincoln Park Thursday afternoons (between 3:30-6:30PM) from May thru October. Although we struggle from time to time with unpleasant weather, on good days many folks seem to enjoy a walk to the market from their homes. There is grass, shade, benches, and picnic tables, and a playground nearby. The DeWitt Farmer’s Market is a relaxing way to get some exercise on a summer afternoon and to visit with neighbors. It doesn’t cost as much money as some other outdoor entertainment. It’s truly a nice walk in the park.
“Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.” A famous quote by George Washington. Often times the importance of agriculture is overlooked or misinterpreted by many who are under informed. To help bridge this gap is the next generation of agriculturists who happen to be sitting in the chairs of high school agriculture education classrooms, like those at Central DeWitt High School.
Only 33% of Iowa’s FFA members live on farms. That means the other 67% live in towns or cities. What an astonishing fact compared to the mere 50 years ago when that statistic in 1967 looked much different! With over 14,700 FFA members in the state representing 232 local chapters, the future of agriculture is in GREAT hands! Stereotypically, some people think FFA is about cows, sows and plows. As those things are extremely important and vital, it is now turning more towards beakers, speakers and job seekers. Statistics show that we are educating kids for careers in laboratories, CEO’s, alternative fuels and even careers that aren’t developed yet! Our FFA chapter currently has 89 active members from grades 8-12 including our out of school members. FFA members are eager to learn and have stepped up to the plate to help promote and advocate for agriculture and FFA; all things they are very passionate about.
The DeWitt Central FFA chapter is celebrating National FFA Week February 18th-25th. The week long tradition started in 1947 when the National Board of Directors designated the week of George Washington’s birthday as National FFA week in recognition of his legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. It also serves as an opportunity for members, alumni and sponsors to promote agriculture education and FFA. In honor of FFA week, there will be a banner hanging across 11th street, FFA flags flying on 6th Ave. and a billboard on Highway 30 west of Clinton. There will also be many activities going on throughout the week at school for students to participate in.
FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Find more information about DeWitt Central FFA and FFA week on our website at www.dewittcentralffa.com!
I was born 38 years ago into a farming family. I have fond memories of my childhood on the farm. I remember helping with sorting pigs back when my dad had a small farrow to finish hog operation. This means we had sow’s that gave birth to baby pigs and we raised them until maturity and sold them to market. I also have memories of riding in tractors and the combine that seemed so big and massive at that young age. Then I moved to town with my mom and spent the majority of my formidable years as a city kid that only had marginal association to the farm. I give this brief but powerful insight into my childhood because now that I have a family of my own I understand as a father what those experiences and memories mean to me as a father as well as what they mean to my own children.
My family has come a long way from when I was a child when we farrowed those 80-100 sows and raised pigs all while planting 1000 acres of corn and soybeans. Over the years we have since stopped raising hogs and are now only crop farmers. Today on an annual basis we plant approximately 6500 acres of corn and soybeans. I say ‘we’ because our operation consists of 5 families, my dad Gary Willimack and his wife Tamra, Brent and Jessica Willimack and their daughter Addison, Jayson and Megan Willimack and their daughter Greyson, Scott and Kassidy Willimack, and myself Matt Willimack and my wife Amanda and our children Mairead and Owen.
I started farming with my family not long after my work off of the farm allowed us the ability to move back to DeWitt which I call home. I now work for Grain Processing Corporation in Muscatine, IA in addition to farming with my family. I started farming with my family because my father Gary has worked hard for many years to build a farming operation that could provide opportunities for his son’s to be a part of production agriculture. We now all work together for common goals. Some of those goals are things like:
Creating a livelihood for those families involved in the operation
Being good stewards of the land, i.e. using technology to be as efficient with things like seed, fertilizer, and chemicals to produce quality grain that helps feed a growing world.
Keep land conservation in the forefront. Strive to leave our mark on the environment as better quality land, water, and air for the next generation.
Perpetuating the legacy my Dad and even my grandfather started by giving their children the opportunity to farm.
Raising our children to understand and appreciate agriculture and how the food they eat gets to the table.
We take pride in the fact that we continue to be a farming family. Our business is farming, but we are a family first, and we hope that our farming business stays that way for generations to come.