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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I believe in the future of agriculture...

"I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds - achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years..."

These are not only the opening lines of the FFA creed but words that stand true in my life as a farmer today. During this National FFA week, I looked back on what FFA taught me. I am grateful that my father was active in FFA and wanted the same things for my sister and I. I am a proud American FFA degree recipient and past President of Chico FFA. But it is what that jacket stands for that is worth the most. 

That FFA Creed really is something to reflect on. Farming is truly a faith; a faith that mother nature will guide is in our endeavors to make the land prosperous, that we will be good stewards to it and that our deeds will benefit the land. Words are only words, unless our deeds defend our words. Our actions must speak louder than our words, we must show our words are true by acting as good stewards. 

Being a good steward to the land will help everyone; present, past and future, to be prosperous with what we have been given. Farming isn't just for the present, we farm for the future. I farm so that my children will have an opportunity in farming and that our past generations legacy will live on. Agriculture education through organization such as the FFA, are teaching just that. We must help the future generations understand the past and present to be able to grow a better future for themselves. FFA teaches young adults how to build better stewards and be strong individuals. 

Agriculture education is a promise of better days. Because farmers are constantly educating themselves and others, we will not have to farm as they did and we are being innovative in our better days. FFA teaches about finding new ways to accomplish ideas. Nothing should come easy, life is a struggle and farming is no different. Some years will be harder than others and that teaches us not to take anything for granted. 

In my years of FFA, I was taught the power of hard work. That you must work for your achievements. You may not always win Grand Champion, grow the best crop or deliver the best speech but what matters is that you enjoyed your experience and you learned from it. By participating in Judging teams, I learned how to evaluate and work as a team. In public speaking contests, I quickly learned the power in practice and lots of dedication. Raising livestock not only showed me how to manage money and time but having animals depend on you makes you responsible for their well being and livelihood. 

The real life situations that FFA provides for young adults is truly like no others. There was no better place for myself to grow up surrounded by like minded individuals, growing as leaders and learning skills to succeed in life. It is because of organizations like FFA that make the future of agriculture bright. I do believe in the future of agriculture...

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

National Almond Day

Today is National Almond Day! I love that my favorite nut has its own day. Just like you and me have our birthday, a day to celebrate ourselves, today is a day to celebrate almonds. And what a better day to talk almonds than on their special day. So let's talk almonds!

How do you eat almonds? Most people just snack on whole almonds but there are so many more ways to enjoy almonds. You can enjoy whole almonds in your homemade granola or favorite trail mix. Slivered almonds are great for granola, yogurt or even ice cream. Sliced almonds are great toppers for cupcakes or muffins and add them to almost anything your baking. Almond Milk is delicious on cereal and add it to your smoothie or coffee of your choice. Have you tried almond oil? Next time your whisking together a salad vinaigrette try it out. Or what about almond butter on your toast, or to dip your apple in? Have I made you hungry yet will all these great ways to enjoy almonds?  If you are looking for some yummy ways to enjoy almonds, check out some of my favorite recipes.

And don't feel guilty about eating almonds either. I have a great not so secret, secret....almonds are healthy! A handful of almonds is the recommended serving size of 23 almonds or one ounce, and is only 160 calories. That one serving is packed with 6 grams of protein, 13 grams of monounsaturated fats (the good ones), 3.5 grams of fiber, 8% of your daily calcium and 20% of your magnesium for one day. That's a lot of good stuff for one great big handful! So next time you need a great go to snack or a little something extra to add to your meal, don't forget the nuts!!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pollination Partners

It is that time of year again! The bees are out and the buds are starting to burst. Its pollination time and no pollination is successful without a successful partnership. Bees are vital to an almond farmer. Bees move the pollen from one variety of almond to another to pollinate an almond bud and make a nut. Almonds farmers who want to have a successful and productive pollination must create a partnership with their beekeeper and applicator. This three way partnership will ensure that you are covering all your bases as a farmer and steward to bees. 

My local Kern County Farm Bureau wanted to ensure that all parties involved in pollination also had the means to create this partnership. That's why they hosted a bee and almond round table discussion that I was involved in. This was a great opportunity for beekeepers, almond farmers and applicators to sit together and discuss concerns, obstacles and solutions for having a great pollination year. Pollination is a fast time of year and all parties involved are moving quick to accomplish their own goals. Beekeepers are moving in hives late at night and checking on hives regularly. Farmers have many other tasks going on at the same time as well and want to make sure the bees are stay healthy. By working together we can all be successful.

Beekeepers want to protect their bees and especially that queen bee from anything that could harm them. Almond farmers want to ensure an even and productive pollination of their crop. Applicators want to protect the crop they are spraying. So by all of us coming together we had the opportunity to figure out how to accomplish all our goals together. The solution seems easy but by creating a partnership with an open line of communication to each other, we will be able to all be successful. The Almond Board of California has done lots of great research on honey bee health and has even created a great tool for farmer in Best Management Practices for bees to help with the open line of communication.

When it comes down to it, almond farmers don't want to do anything that could harm the bees. Bees are coming from all over the nation to California for our one month of pollination. At 2 hives per acre, there are lots of bees moving around California. If we don't have bees, we won't have a crop.  And of course if almond farmers don't have almonds, there is nothing for the applicators to spray to protect. Beekeepers enjoy almond bloom as well, almonds are the first natural source of food for bees in the spring. Those bees love almond pollen and generally leave stronger than when they came into our fields. It is in the best interest of all partners to create this partnership and 'bee' stewards for each other!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl