Welcome to the Farm

I'm a farm kid at heart.

I love big cities. I love exploring new places, trying new foods, and encountering new cultures.

But there is something about the farm -- something quiet, something peaceful. A stillness that, even in the the buzz of wheat harvest or the cold, dead of winter, I can only find at home on the farm.

Welcome to the Farm from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

I grew up on an "industrial" farm in the middle of Kansas, where my parents still live and grow a strict rotation of corn, wheat, soybeans, and milo (sorghum). I suppose you would call them "conventional" farmers, because they don't grow organic crops. Really, though, my parents are anything but conventional (more on that later).

Scheufler Farms, Inc. (that's pronounced shy-flur) is a family farm. Some of the first land was acquired via the Homestead Act of 1862 by my great-great-grandfather, which was eventually passed on to my grandmother, Elva Lois (Leonard) Scheufler. Her nickname was "Wheat-Weaver" because of her incredible artistic ability to transform wheat into all kinds of creations.

 The cake topper that my grandmother made. She made it  to scale.  My family might have perfectionist tendencies.

The cake topper that my grandmother made. She made it to scale. My family might have perfectionist tendencies.

Grandma married my grandpa, Paul Scheufler, in 1950. Grandpa originally hailed from western Kansas, but came to settle with my grandma in Rice County. He was a World War II veteran (and featured in the book G Company's War), an incredibly hard worker, and the best listener you ever met. When he was little, my brother, Ray, would ride on the tractor with him and endlessly talk about his favorite computer games. Grandpa had no idea what Ray was talking about, but he sure loved to be with him.

 Grandpa listening to me play the clarinet, circa 2004. I couldn't ask for a better family.

Grandpa listening to me play the clarinet, circa 2004. I couldn't ask for a better family.

My parents moved to the farmstead in the early 1990s when Ray and I were still little. The house we lived in was the one where my Dad spent his high school years, as the old house had been moved and a new house built.

Grandma designed the house, and if you've ever had a tour, you can see her creative touch everywhere. From the grocery pass-through (a secret, tiny door to hand groceries from the garage directly into the pantry) to the dishwasher that is lifted approximately nine inches off the ground (so you don't have to bend over as far), she certainly left her mark.

My dad, Lee Scheufler, is the most brilliant person I know. Dad is efficient, hard-working, and (to all of our dismays at one time or another), quite the perfectionist.

 Dad and Baby Ann

Dad and Baby Ann

 Dad and Grown-up Ann

Dad and Grown-up Ann

Dad has always been on the cutting-edge of farming research. He (and my mom) are both active in on-farm research. They were founding members of the Kansas Ag Research & Technology Association, attend annual conferences such as those put on by the Kansas Crop Residue Management Alliance,  and often find themselves working out the "bugs" in the latest ag technology working as beta testers for companies such as John Deere. Dad's efficiency, drive, and wise decision making (knowing when to "spend money to make money" and when to save for later) grew the farm into what it is today.

 My mom and me, a couple of weeks ago. Yes, that's a loaf of fresh bread behind her.

My mom and me, a couple of weeks ago. Yes, that's a loaf of fresh bread behind her.

Margaret Scheufler, my mom, has her formal training in Physical Therapy. For the last 20 years, though, she's been the organization behind the scenes and the technical guru. She keeps the books, runs the website, calculates and sends the bills, does the taxes, and (oh yeah) cooks two or three meals a day. I think I've already mentioned how amazing my mom is.

As a dietitian who grew up on a farm and then went to live in cities, I've had a chance to see first-hand both food production and the effect of our food production system. I admire, respect, and have a great love for "industrial" farms -- because that's my heritage.

I also know our food system is not perfect. We produce many calories, but few nutrients. I've met so many (very smart) people who have no idea where their food comes from. There is a great disconnect between agriculture, culture, our taste buds, and the food that is actually put on the table.

Can you imagine what family dinners are like at our house? Yeah, conversations are all about food systems, agriculture, technology, healthcare, environmental issues, and politics. It's amazing how respect for one another's differing opinions can foster lively debate, but still end with a slice of zucchini cake and laughter.

 One of my favorite places as a child. I spent hours in the hayloft building haybale forts (much to my dad's chagrin - guess who had to move the bales back?), attempting to tame wild barn-cat kittens, and caring for my beloved horse.

One of my favorite places as a child. I spent hours in the hayloft building haybale forts (much to my dad's chagrin - guess who had to move the bales back?), attempting to tame wild barn-cat kittens, and caring for my beloved horse.

Now you know a little more about me. I'd love to hear about you -- where you came from and how you fit in to the global food production system. Whether you grow your own garden or prefer to pick up take-out on the way home from work, we all live somewhere on the food chain.

To learn more about my family's farm, check out their website. Or stop by sometime for a glass of cold iced tea and a friendly chat.

With love, from Peas and Hoppiness.