Farm Tour Feedback

We enjoyed having instructor Angela Babb’s class out to explain what we do and why we do it.  Also included was a healthy dose of reality on the challenges we face economically and due to scale-inappropriate regulations.

Here are some of the unedited posts the students offered regarding their experiences:

Emma McCord

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 10:44am

  • I looked over their website before we went to the farm, so I had a basic understanding of the purpose and goals of the farm. With that being said actually being there and seeing the animals and the land I gained a greater appreciation and respect for the Howard family. The fact that they are able to run the all the locations with just their family is pretty impressive. I really liked how the Howard children all were in charge of different tasks, and were so knowledgeable about what they were doing. It was also really interesting that the Howard family was so transparent in their operations and were so open to explain how agriculture laws had affected their family.

I think the thing that stood out to me the most was just how invested and passionate the Howard family was about their farm. The fact that they risked their life savings to start the farm, and then they had to shut down their farm and had to go get other full-time jobs was really eye-opening to me. Then to invest more money into starting the farm again really resonated with some of the readings we have done. To actually see people putting everything they have in to their farm, and sill having to get another full-time job on top of that speaks volumes to how inequitable the agriculture system has become. I really appreciate the Howard family for shedding light on their operations and letting us put an image to the readings we have done.

Would you get another full-time job to save up money to start your farm again if you had to close down again due to changes in the agriculture laws? At what point do you think the laws will run small farms like yours out of business because you aren’t a large scale USDA certified farm?

 

 

Savannah Harrison

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 10:59am

  • Going to the farm was so interesting to me and it might be my favorite field trip I’ve ever taken at IU. I’ve been vegan for years now and the reason behind it is because of how unsustainable the animal agriculture industry is, specifically within factory and industrial farms. Visiting the farm was so interesting to me because I was able to learn about the different ways in which the Howard family raises their livestock to benefit the livestock and also their land for more growing seasons to come. You can tell that not only is this their job, but it is their passion. From knowing exactly how carbon is affecting their soil to how much they can benefit from moving their livestock around, even to knowing the best process in order to slaughter their livestock, the entire family is very knowledgable and you can tell that they genuinely enjoy what they do. It’s a shame that they have to deal with so much backlash and penalties dealing with the USDA and other federal agencies, but I hope one day it will be easier for them and other farmers across this country to sell their products and get them out to people who are not only interested in them, but who also need food in order to survive.

 

Hannah Myers

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:08am

  • The field trip to the Maple Valley Farm was one of the most interesting classes I’ve experienced in my five, almost six years, in college. After all we’ve learned about big farms and the damage the cause to the environment, the economy, our bodies, the animals and more, seeing how farming SHOULD be done was very refreshing. I was in awe and very impressed by all the Howard children. The amount they all know about their family’s farm is incredible. I believe that children should have ‘jobs’ if you will from a young age because so many people today are lazy and expect that everything be done for them because it always has been. These kids will grow up with an outstanding work ethic and not to mention the amount of knowledge they have picked up manning the farm from childhood. The kids will likely excel in school due to their early age of education on the farm which develops problem solving skills, patience, and love for nature.

The farm was beautiful and it was very interesting to learn about how they move the animals in order to give back to the land. I loved Mr. Howard’s example he gave about working out, how it tears up the muscle but allowing it to rest makes it stronger. I’m not a gym rat but this analogy was great because it likely resonated with most if not all of the students in the midst of the technical farming terms and science behind it. I would like to thank the Howard family once more for taking the time out of their day to educate us on the way they do things and letting us interact with their animals. The cows in response to the turkey like noise he made seriously made my week!

 

A’Niyah Birdsong

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:21am

  • Yesterday, my experience at Maple Valley Farm was one to remember! I am a huge city girl and found it fascinating and interesting to learn about what it takes to run and operate a farm. The Howard family were great hosts and really made our experience very welcoming. I loved how everyone was very knowledgeable about the various jobs they have around the farm. My favorite part was probably the sight of the chickens. Their little bodies running around in various clans was very entertaining. The baby chickens were very animated as well. I have never seen such animals in close proximity as I did yesterday. I really respected the Howards family to mimic earth’s natural productions and not treat their farm with harsh pesticides that large, industrialized farm use. They are the right people who need to be in this business and put all the greedy, corrupt farmers to shame. I would like to thank them again for their hospitality!

 

Haley Semian

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:28am

  • Going to Maple Valley Farm brought the class material we have been learning about in full circle for me. It was amazing to the the conceptualization and the real life implications coming together.

Before arriving I didn’t have much expectations about what I would see when I got there. For some reason, my lofty idea of what would be was just large expanses of land. I was surprised to see that it was a farm where cattle, such as chicken, sheep, and cows, were being raised. Being from Bloomington, Indiana I know there are farms, but I didn’t know that the farm owners had as much involvement in the community as they do.

What struck me about Howard and his kids was that they were deeply intelligent about all aspects of the production. I was very impressed with the fluency and eloquence Howard spoke about complex ideas in the environmental, social, and political aspects of farming. It took me awhile to process the information that he was able to quickly give to us. I believe the misconception of farmers are that they are isolated people from backwoods who work in the fields with their hands and not their heads. But it was exactly the opposite. Now I can’t say that these are my personal misgivings about farmers, but I think my surprise says something about the power of the stereotype.

During the trip I found myself yearning to buy something as fresh as Howard and his family could produce. However, I realized it wasn’t that easy. I remember him telling us that they used to sell to people and the demand was overwhelming. Eventually (if I am remembering right) enforcement would come and try to see what was going on. To which he said he would have them talk directly to his lawyer. This opened my eyes to the complexities of owning a farm and being able to actually sell what one produces. This lets me have a real life example of the power that the government and food corporations have.

Overall, it was a great experience and I really appreciate that I am able to take a class like this that brings things into perspective and also brings the class together to experience these unique adventures together.

My questions:

-I believe Howard said he goes to the Farmer’s Market and provides foods to local coops like Bloomingfoods. In addition, if people would like to purchase his foods they may have to buy shares in the company. How else does Howard promote his business and farming? Is he active in the political sphere in regards to farming and the laws surrounding it as well?

-Angelea: As you are researching, how do you think Bloomington or Indiana farms fair in the national arena of agriculture?

 

Kaleb Wagers

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 12:26pm

  • Going to the farm was a rich an interesting experience.  It was amazing to see how such a large operation was run by just a relatively small family.  It was really exciting to see how the children were so knowledgeable about farm and environmental issues as well as the amount of the responsibility that they had on the farm.  Going to the farm also made me realize on a personal level the amount of work and effort that goes into farming especially when one is trying to do so in an environmentally sustainable and healthy way.  It was disheartening to see how regulations—generally something that I see as a good thing for consumers—were causing so many issues for the Howard family.  Their financial situation also reminded me of our class discussion about the profit margins for small family farmers.  My question for the Howards would be: how can we as a community and as individuals help ensure that farms such as yours succeed?    

 

Wanze Wu

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 12:50pm

  • It was a great experience to visit Maple Valley Farm yesterday. Although driving for a long time, but we have learned a lot. We saw plenty meat chickens, cattle and sheep, ducks. People could get all organic meat and cattle grazing pork, poultry and eggs purchased from the farm. Proper diet, all animal species often moved to fresh grass/forest is not fed, supplement or injection of antibiotics, drug or hormone. All the animals have proper diets here and they often moved to fresh forest. Sometimes the animals need supplement or injection of antibiotics or hormone. Food is so important to our health and diet. To make matters worse, most of the food nutrition is destroyed the soil nutrient depletion and industrial process used to grow crops, animal feed, create processed foods. We should realize that our decision about food has also decided to more important things. Not only our families have been influenced, our community and is also influenced by the environment.

 

Edited by Wanze Wu on May 26 at 12:51pm

 

Tomas Gomes

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 1:18pm

  • I found my experience at the Maple Valley Farm more interesting than I initially thought when I arrived to the farm. I had never really thought about the science behind where we get our food until this course and it was really cool to see a real life example right here in just 20 minutes from campus. I really liked the Howard family to say the least, its so cool that Mr. Howard’s children help him in his farming venture especially because one of the boys is just 12 years old, and his sister who’s not much older, together are in charge of maintaing around 300 chicken! I also think their style of farming is very unique and sustainable and believe we need more of it. I question why their method isn’t implemented more throughout the world, and it led me to part of Mr. Howard’s presentation. I believe he said he took out about $20,000 the first year he did it and $23,000 the second year he did it and still has yet to break even. My question for him is: Do you think your method of farming will grow and eventually make enough money to make your venture profitable? If not, how much longer will you continue doing this? & If so, how long do you think it will take you to break even?

 

Nicholas Miller

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 1:37pm

  • I want to reflect both on the experience of looking forward to visiting Maple Valley Farm from my own perspective and then also on the farm’s perspective after the visit.

My wife and I this year have been trying to buy as much from local small farms as is possible. The one area we’ve struggled with is finding a local meat/poultry source, where the animals are treated humanely and slaughtered locally. I was delighted to read through Maple Valley Farm’s site. That said, in looking at the farm’s need to sell through partnerships, this excluded us for two reasons. Firstly, we don’t eat too much meat, so the partnership amount of food is beyond our needs, since we probably only eat it once a week, if that. We also don’t have the space in our house or garage for a stand-alone freezer, so even if we did eat this meat, we wouldn’t be able to store it properly. Here, I think of my family’s financial barrier, which isn’t that we couldn’t afford the partnership, but instead that we couldn’t afford a house where we could store the monthly supply. I recognize, though, that we should be able to buy from them at the farmers market (I believe they sell there, but now wish I had asked). At least I would be able to support their farm, since purchasing weekly or as needed would make more sense for my family.

The farm itself was beautiful, and the farmers were incredibly open and generous. The ethos and care that they put into their work is something that instinctively I feel I want to support. I found it depressing, however, hearing just how much they struggle because of regulations, regulations which I’m willing to put down to good-faith efforts by the government, but still clearly favor massive corporate-scale farms and farming techniques. That it is so hard for a farm to make ends meet while raising chickens and cows and pigs the way they should be, that this family approaches their work and their commitment to the community in a way that surely most would endorse, and yet they still struggle, this seems to me to be culturally and socially criminal.

 

Wendi Pei

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 2:01pm

  • Yesterday we went to Maple Valley Farm to visit, these kind of farm is very familiar to me. Because when I was in the high school, I was studying in Texas’ private school. As we all know, Texas is a big animal husbandry state. So we can see animals everywhere, in my high school had lots animals such as buffalos, horses, sheep, cows… we also have an class that teach us how to take care of the animals. When the owner was introducing his farm, it brought me lots of memories from my high school. I know it is very hard to take care of each animals in the farm, everyday need to get up earlier than other people. If the animals sick or have any health problems, need to take care of them in time and to find doctor to cure them. Because these animals like your children, we cannot abandon them.  Animals also need to supplement or injection, food is the most important thing to them and us. Although,when the owner was talking about only his family take care of the farm, I know how hard was, I think their very happy to do that because it is part of their life and they need earn money from these animals.  We should think about when we discuss food at class, because food influence to our families and also influence to our environment and society.

 

Joseph Nafius

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 2:17pm

  • I thought going out to the actual farm and seeing the whole process was very fun and eye opening on how small farms ,like Maple Valley, and industrialized farm are so different. Not only in the way they treat their animals, but in their own mindset. If i had time this summer i would love to help them out when able to and get to know a little bit more about their operation and the ecology behind it all. Not all the legislature and politics that come with it. I also has a couple chickens and three goat back home in California so it was nice seeing farm animals again and it reminded me of them.

 

Sydney Van Pelt

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 2:59pm

  • I enjoyed my visit to Maple Valley Farm very much. I was surprised to hear that only his family ran the farm and they had no outside form of help. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear how caring that the Howard family is towards their animals. In class we’ve learned a lot about neoliberal farming and how the only focus is on making money. It was nice to be able to gain knowledge about these local farmers that care so deeply about what the do. I was also happy to hear about the butchering process that their family takes on. Hearing that it is painless for the chickens is awesome. It’s so cool to see how knowledgeable the children were in regards to all that goes on on the farm. I was wondering if all the food that the Howard family consumes comes from their farm? It seems as though the Maple Valley farm is quite large, how was the Howard family able to build such a farm empire?

 

Shelby Revils

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 5:28pm

  • I personally had a great time visiting Maple Valley Farm. It was interesting to learn what processes the Howard family undergo on a daily basis in order to maintain and take care of their land and animals. I enjoyed witnessing the connection the Howard family had with their animals, I could see that the animals knew who fed them and that the family treated them kindly. It was a treat to see what farm to table looks like first hand.

Chaeri Park

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 5:36pm

  • The field trip that we went yesterday was really interesting for me since I’ve never been to a farm in America before. It was really interesting to see chickens and cows, and the process of slaughtering them. Also, I was surprised by how the farm was big since all the farms that I have went in Korea were all small compared to this farm. I always wanted to visit a farm in America since I thought it would be a new experience for me, and think this was a great opportunity for me to know and learn about farms in America.

 

Andrew Kotlarz

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 6:58pm

  • Farm Experience

Overall, the grey weather and foliage reminded me of my days hanging out in Lithuania. When Larry said that some of the grasses/ flowers were of European descent I definitely believed it, as I had seen some of these herbs/shrubs before. What was really interesting was when he went into depth on how inspections aren’t as thorough as you’d hope it would be, and that the inspector really inspects 400 chickens being chopped a minute- hardly quality control. It was sad to see that his business aspirations died over night due to the law that restricted him from butchering a specific amount of animals. It really opened my eyes on how government interference can really destroy a farmer’s hopes and aspirations, even if the government intends to do well. On a side note- it was crazy how his 12(?) year old son was already doing computer science and his kids were already learning applied calculus. It was interesting to see the farm setup and the portability of the setups as well, as this greatly contrasted with the farm setup I was used to in Lithuania. Overall, phenomenal trip. It was an afternoon well spent.

 

Zhanchao Gao

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 8:42pm

  • I came to America three years, but this is my first time to go to a farm. I feel so happy and excited. The Maple Valley Farm, Larry, and Tina and three children, Ethan 16, Elena 14, and Grant 12, run a diversified, multigenerational family farm with cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, laying hens, meat chickens and turkeys. The host of the Maple Valley Farm who moved to a small farm in Bloomington, Indiana in 2003. At the time, he believed that they had a pretty healthy diet. Nonetheless, they had begun to question some things. For one, they noticed that typical carb-heavy meals made us groggy, fatigued and overweight. Eating a diet higher in the protein made their feel more energetic and took extra pounds off. They decided to get some sheep to keep the pastures on our small farm groomed. And then they also feeding chicken and cattle. The host leads us to visit a chicken farm. There are have 250 chickens and different kinds here. The boy showed the three different kinds of the egg, white egg, brown egg and deep brown egg. Maybe different eggs have different flavors. And then, we saw the cattle and sheep. And we used grass to feed cattle. These animals look healthy and strong. They feed these animals not only just like them but also want to have high quality and nutritious food in their life. They thought food not just enough your stomach. It is also represented the life equality and health. Now, they improved their life, they also can help other people’s life, and help them go to a healthy life. I thought this farm is very funny and significance of healthy food.

My question is: can this farm improve the economy and decrease the number of the malnutrition people?

 

 

Daniel Sego

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 8:59pm

  • I really enjoyed the time we spent at the farm. One of the most interesting aspects of this farm was the mobility they utilize to create nutrient rich soil. Through using easily moved electric fencing to contain their animals, the family can easily move the holding area to different locations that contain more grass as food. Because my idea of a farm revolves around permanently fixed grazing areas and fields, I thought this strategy of frequently moving the animals was fascinating. I also appreciated the payment system they created so that families pay monthly dues to cover the costs of raising their food. If they were able to find more families willing to participate, it seems like this family would have a relatively perfect setup. My questions focus on the eloquency and work ethics of the children who help run the farm. It is obvious through his electrical engineering background and extensive knowledge of agriculture and agricultural legislation to see that the owner of this farm is extremely intelligent. What isn’t so easy to see is how much he is working to make sure his children are prepared for the future. With frequent presentations (like we saw), the hard work associated with the farm life, as well as policy debate competitions attended by his children, the emphasis on public speaking and activism within the family is clear. My takeaway really wasn’t the farm (although I love the idea of it and would participate if it was possible). My takeaway was the story of a man who left a lucrative career to raise animals with his family so that his local community could have fresh and organic food sources, and his kids would learn the importance of hard work, sustainability and communication. My question is: Was this farm more about the food, or more about the family?

 

Yiming Chen

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 8:59pm

  • I appreciate that Maple Valley Farm raises its livestock by mimicking how nature works instead of using chemicals and antibiotics to stimulate their growth. It is comforting to know that they apply methods that won’t cause pain to chickens during the butchering process.

 

Stefany Terrell

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 9:07pm

  • I thought this was a really fun experience and loved learning about how animal rotation works! I think it would have been great to spend a whole day here seeing everything that goes in to the work the Howard family does. I was wondering if Larry has ever had internships available or if he would be interested in offering them in the future? How did he decide which breeds to raise of the animals? How does he manage to be a family run farm and still maintain a profitable enough business despite all the legislation issues that he encounters?

Hao Luo

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 9:15pm

  • I have a great experience at the farm yesterday. I found the farm we visited yesterday is running in a original farming and breeding way. The animals, eggs and other products produced by this farm will meet with ecology and organic food need. I think their products are healthy and environmental friendly. However, I found the way they produce is slow when comparing to industrial farming, this is a disadvantage when competing with industrial agri-food in market and hard to be improved. I think governments should give some subsidy to the farms that still producing in original way because they keep food real, health and environmental friendly but not that profitable. Original farming way farms are encouraged in China, so more farms like we visited yesterday was built in China and people start change their habit on eating too much industrial agri-food and spend more on those products that were produced in original farming way.

Will they hire veterinarian to run periodic health condition check on animals to remain the products’ quality?

 

Takara Tsujimoto

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 9:25pm

  • It was a great experience at the farm. The thing I remembers the most of all is the semi farming of cows because I only saw cows are put in chains in a hunt. From my perspective, there is an impression that costs are expensive in terms of management by giving cows liberty, but cows can move like theirs own and eat and sleep whenever they want. So I guess it’s good for cows and owner because I guess that it takes in considering exercising freely and wanting to have a strong baby birth without any illness and no accident was adopted at the end of considering the health of cattle. I would like to ask that how they are in accordance with the weather.

 

Christopher Wolff

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 9:41pm

  •                 Our trip to Maple Valley Farm was a priceless experience. I found the Howard family’s farming methodologies superb. The family was extremely knowledgeable in not only producing healthy, natural livestock, but was also knowledgeable in ecosystem sustainability. Throughout the tour, each child in the family presented some of their roles on the farm. Not only were the jobs the children fulfill on a daily basis impressive, but they knowledge of expertise and ability to articulate and clearly communicate to an audience was outstanding. With their skill and knowledge, I do hope they continue to study in university as I think they can truly make a difference in altering policy which restricts the farm from its fullest potential. I felt frustrated for the family as a consequent of the government regulation they face. As a chemistry major and a biotechnology minor, I really want to bridge the gap between science and industry, and foremost, help those farms like Maple valley farm to continue their excellent work to produce healthy food in an environmentally natural and safe way. Big industry can not dominate a whole market and I hope to contribute to change in the current system.

 

Jiashun Li

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 9:53pm

  • The Maple Valley Farm trip was an very interesting trip that I’ve had so far since my college life. The first impressive thing for me is that farm is so far away from campus and road was blocked so we had to take a further detour, but luckily, the farm owner Howard guided us to arrive their. The weather was pretty good and firstly owner introduced us about the basic situation about the farm. Then the Howard’s family showed us around to see chicken farm and then the cattle field. The most impressive thing was about when I know how old are Howard’s three kids, they are aroun 12 to 16 and they almost know everything about how to run the whole farm. At the end, Howard mentioned about it’s really hard to find people help them manage the farm and do some work. I really want to say thank you to Howard’s family that take us around and it was a wonderful memory.

 

Yutong Liu

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 9:55pm

  • After visited the Maple Valley Farm yesterday, which enhance my knowledge and opened my mind in many aspects. At first, the American Farm that in my mind is like big-scale and merchandise product. However, the Maple Valley Farm only have four people to management even they mention there would be a volunteer to work here this still amazing me. Also, for the livestock in the farm, which is so natural without and chemical hormone and antibiotics. This is suit for the idea that we learning in the class that local food and the ecological idea.

 

Holly Waldkoetter

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:23pm

  • I really enjoyed the visit and all the information the Howards shared with us. It was refreshing to be outside learning about real sustainable models of agriculture. I am looking forward to the opportunity to help out there and am so glad this class connected me. I was sadnessed to hear of the financial troubles they faced, and a bit surprised given the relative (perceived/marketed) ‘greeness’ of Bloomington. The litigation about slaughter and farming practices is so complex and devastating to small-scale farmers, I hope we can discuss ways to be politically involved in changing the current laws. I have a lot of respect for the Howards relationship to the land and animals, and was inspired to hear about their approach to minimal human interaction animal husbandry.

I was wondering if the eggs produced are for sale to the general public.

I also hope to come to a slaughtering day and was wondering how to get that information.

Also, where are the best resources to learn about starting up a farm? Best books?

Thank you so much for the visit and tour!

 

Yiyao Yang

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:34pm

  • I really appreciate that I can have this opportunity to  spend a day in this farm. It is a rare and first time experience in my life. Watching those different kind of livestock and listening to stories of this family business is interesting. I was impressed by the 12 year old boy, he seems to know a lot that I do not know and did not taught in college. The operation system of the three year old farm is workable and practical which allow the farm depend on nature instead of human. iIt must be so peaceful and happy living in that place with so many animals. My question is that I am curious about what way in detail do they get profit?

 

Shanshan Yang

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:45pm

  • In Maple Valley Farm,the hoster who is Larry and three children Ethan,Elena and Grant. They run a multicultural farm with cattle, sheep, pigs, laying hens, chickens and turkeys. I thought it was a very interesting experience. They raise their livestocks in a nature method but not using antibiotics to make their growth. Moreover,it is very surprised that Larry using eletric fencing to keep their livestovk in the certain place,I was never know this method before.

My question is Have you(Larry)ever think that opening the farm for limit number of people for rural Pleasures?

 

Nathan Conley

May 26, 2017 May 26 at 11:53pm

  • I will refrain from naming the company for whom I worked, in order to rely on the subjectivity of my argument and allow my expressed experience to remain a caveat for everything I say. Anything I divulge is solely my experience and third-hand relation of experiences in the world of corporate agriculture, so nothing following is meant to be an empirical representation or formal critique of arguably small-scale agriculture. That quasi-legalese disclaimer aside, this is my take.

 

I was hyper-sympathetic to Mr. Howard’s situation as a small farmer, especially in animal husbandry. I cited a Bloomberg news article about the lack of slaughterhouses for small-scale meat producers in my previous post (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-23/there-aren-t-enough-slaughterhouses-to-support-the-farm-to-table-economy (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.), and shared it with two of my peers who have recently struck out on their own as young farmers in farm country Indiana. One, who has recently taken on a family farm as his own expressed his pleasure with the small, mostly traditionally owned processing operations in Northern Indiana that have been in operation for decades, while another was dissatisfied with his proximity to a processing operation in the Eastern US. He was the lead herdsman of a farm just outside of a major US city, and his closest USDA certified processing facility was two and a half hours away from his operation.

 

Our common bond was a farm at which we all worked that was capable of operating in the red for years because of the safety net of a capital source derived from years of old money investment. My peer’s city ajacent farm was sustained similarly because of the owner’s nest egg derived the money from a particular mass-marketed, processed dairy product he had a hand in creating.

 

While at my previous employer, I had government certifications and was able to hold my own during inspections by the USDA and Board of Animal Health, but I knew I had a system of company lawyers and the economic sway of the owner’s stance as a pillar of the community. It is here that I see the same type of model of Norman Borlaug’s use of extra-US markets to promote corporate seed markets.

 

With regard to small farming operations, there was no way to battle the political hold huge agribusiness operations have in cultivating a monopoly on local food systems, keeping small producers beholden to legislation that does not account for economies of scale. Small farmers cannot pay for processing of their wares, and merely the opportunity to enter into the market is subject to having a repository of capital undreamed of by small farmers. Hence, access to the marketplace is solely obtainable by those who can accommodate the hindrances of the food system, making it even more difficult for consumers to purchase humanely raised food from their neighbors.

 

This is a response without any sourcing and I do not attest anything to the validity of what is above outside of my own inferences, which are purely subjective.

 

The framing device I used to recount this is disgusting to me.

 

Sienna Hurley

Monday May 29 at 1:15pm

  • First of all, the farm was beautiful. It was so nice to get out of town and appreciate the hills and beauty that surround Bloomington. One thing that stuck with me from the farm is the scale of the operation compared to the limited amount of help. It seems like a lot of work for one family to do, but it seems like they are very capable and happy to be so sustainable. There is so much that goes into running that farm, and he was very knowledgeable about each aspect. The trip makes me want to learn so much more about farming and sustainable living because there is clearly a lot that I still need to learn. I hope to find time to help out on this farm or farms like these.

 

Amber Slabaugh

Tuesday May 30 at 10:19am

  • I enjoyed going to Maple Valley Farms! It was a great experience. It made me hopeful of possible changes that could come of our current agriculture system but also made me disheartened for the amount of change that would have to take place. Agriculture both produce and livestock has become such a commercialized process. Big corporations rule the forelegs and because of this a vast array of laws and regulations were made to ensure they keep on track and the food we eat is safe. However, this causes many problems and hurdles for small farmers. The ones we do not need such protection from them, but rather the large corporations. I still loved to see the happy animals, the healthy land, and to hear about the processes they use. I hope to be able to find a farm like this wherever I end up.

 

Sarah Johnson

Wednesday May 31 at 10:06am

  • Going out to Maple Valley Farms this past Thursday was truly one of the best things I have done in a long time. Actually being given the opportunity to meet the people that grow our food as well as see the places and methods used to grow this food in a sustainable, moral way was incredible. It was such a great experience to me for a few reasons. Foremost, in this class and a few others I have taken about food and geography I have been exposed to a variety of topics regarding the immoralities of our food system and how our food is currently produced. Sensibly, with these topics I was also presented with alternative movements and tactics to this  system and to actually see these methods in practice really brought these issues into a new light for me.

Another aspect of this trip that I truly enjoyed was the genuine passion you could see and feel by talking to the Howard family. Farming is not simply an occupation to them but a passion, and I could see the connection that they had with their land and animals. I was so impressed with the amount of dedication and pride that went into producing ethical animal products and it really made me appreciate the effort it takes to morally farm animals. It is tough work and Mr. Howard, his two sons, and his daughter are all very great people for what they do everyday. The final aspect of this experience that I enjoyed was, of course, the animals. Despite the fact that I tell myself this all the time, that the chicken, beef, etc. I eat comes from an animal, actually seeing these creatures reminded me of why I keep such a strict diet regarding my animal product consumption as they deserve a true life as sentient beings as I saw them living this past Thursday.

However, another thing that really stuck with me from our class trip to Maple Valley Farms was at the end of our visit when we were discussing the rigorous regulations around selling poultry in Indiana that prevents farmers from being able to sell their products in the market at restaurants and grocers. This really upset me, especially after seeing all of the love and effort that went into raising the chickens right around us, yet the state was telling Mr. Howard he could not sell his product because of their regulations. I think this is a really terrible situation and was curious what you think would be the best way to go about removing these barriers for farmers? Who are the players here and what would they have to do in order to eliminate these obstacles?

 

Emily Bravard

Wednesday May 31 at 4:22pm

I really enjoyed going to Maple Valley Farm. I also had the pleasure of visiting the same site in February for a different class. It was very interesting to see how the land had changed, along with the location of the animals were different too. I love how going about 20 minutes from Bloomington allows for us to hardly hear any man made (automated)  noises, and are able to hear not only the animals on the farm, but also in the wooded area near by. I really enjoyed hearing Mr. Howard do the cow call, and hearing a response from some of the males. It was awesome to see some of the practices we have read and are learning about put to practice.

I am curious how early they have to get up each day, and about how long each of their days working with the animals are? Or does each animal take a different amount of time to work with? What is their most dangerous predator, in terms of animals killed or taken?

 

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