North Dakota Farmers Union is an educational organization. Our official name is Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America, North Dakota Division. We are not limited in scope to just education projects but offer many activities and programs ranging from advocacy to value-added ventures.
One of our more exciting priorities is to educate consumers. Over the past four years, we have been writing and publishing children’s books. We currently have three available for purchase.
You may ask yourself, why children’s books? Many times I personally get asked this question. If you think about it, we are a few generations removed from children and grandchildren growing up on the family farm. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear people say food or specifically milk comes from the grocery store, forgetting the work of the dairy farmer.
We need educational tools to reconnect future consumers with farms and ranches.
These books bring subtle education to those who buy them and read about how a farm and ranch operates today, and the community that farms support. They illustrate how a multi-generational family works together to achieve food production. Ultimately, our goal is to show the value of diverse family farms and ranches as the reason for the abundant food supply we enjoy in the United States. Keep in mind with only about 250 words per book, the education must be subtle.
Our first book, Our Family Farm: Everyone Works on a Family Farm, is focused on daily chores, fixing fence, and a long day of harvesting crops. The Rhodes family deals with the combine breaking down and how the family dog, Rocky, helps get the machinery up and running. It ends with the delivery of grain to the elevator, showing the logistics of how grain we grow is transported around the world to feed others.
Our second book, Our Family Farm: The Early Snow, is focused on weather risks on the farm and how the community pulls together when an early snow causes a school bus to slip off the road. It also showcases the importance of the local Farmers Union cooperative in a community. In the end, farmer innovation is used to solve the icy road problem.
Our newest book, Our Family Farm: Cows on the Mooove, is focused on the care given to livestock, and even has an evil coyote that attempts to attack a calf. It concludes with cows and calves being moved out to pasture and a picnic for all the neighbors who helped transport the cattle.
I am not sure if we will continue to publish more books. It will be based on our ability to recover costs and get the books distributed to farm-removed generations. We are also discussing some animation concepts to take the characters in the book to the next level.
Everywhere I go, people talk about the important role family farmers and ranchers play in America’s story of food production. These books are one tool to tell our story. They can be read by children just developing their reading skills and they are excellent books for parents to read to gain more insight.
I encourage you to buy a book or two, or three, and send them to your relatives who are not connected to the farm or ranch anymore. This is your opportunity to showcase what happens on Our Family Farm.
– Mark Watne, NDFU President