From the Ground Up: Innovation, By Pork Producer Wande Patsche

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Right in the middle of Minnesota’s agriculture community is Martin County. Located in south-central Minnesota, Martin County is rich in agriculture resources. In fact, the county is the largest pork-producing county in Minnesota. We celebrate our strong agriculture community through an event called From the Ground Up.

From the Ground Up

What is From the Ground Up?

From the Ground Up is a yearly event where we acknowledge and celebrate the importance of ag in our community. It is also an event where we showcase a unique aspect of agriculture and enjoy food, drink and conversation with a diverse group of attendees.

Every From the Ground Up event has a theme and this year’s theme was innovation. Historically, the event is usually held at a different local farmer’s farm site within the county. This our 5th event and hosted by Matt and Angel Moeller’s farm in rural Fairmont.

Aerial view of From the Ground Up Event compliments of NuWay
Matt and Angel Moeller Farm

Why is the event important?

The importance of the event is simple. There are so few people that farm, less than 1%, and yet our impact is great. We feed the world. It is very important to put a face to agriculture and have conversations with people outside of our ag world and show what Martin County agriculture is all about.

The event’s attendees were a diverse group of people from all walks of life. As an invitation-only event, community and business leaders, education and medical leaders, political leaders, along with regional and state leaders were invited. The engagement by all was phenomenal.

What was the focus of the From the Ground Up event?

Our theme this year was innovation. We asked six different local to showcase their latest and newest innovations. Attendees heard a short presentation from each of these six companies:

Innovation in 1957 vs. 2022
Listening to a presentation by Mark Gaalswyk
Presentation by Nate Janssen, Carson Kahler, and Kelly Artz, C & B Operations/John Deere

Food, drink and Extra Activities

Along with the educational and social aspect of the evening, we also had a meal served out in the cornfield. Yes, you read that correctly–A Corn Field!

The weather was perfect, which allowed us to enjoy an outdoor meal on the farm provided by Lola’s from New Ulm. The owner of Lola’s is originally from Martin County.

Lost Sanity, a local brewery, provided drinks. Tonne Century Farms Hops from Martin county provides hops for Lost Sanity.

Lastly, dessert was sweet corn ice cream. And, no, it does not taste like sweet corn. It was made by the University of Minnesota. They simply take sweet corn and strain out the corn chunks and use the sweet liquid for the ice cream. It was so good!

Sweet corn ice cream
Local FFA groups helping dish up sweet corn ice cream for sundae bar

We ended the evening by having a drawing for some really fun door prizes. One of the more interesting door prizes was provided by Minnesota Soybean. They gave away five pairs of Skecher shoes. Are you wondering why Minnesota Soybean would give away shoes? Well, soybeans have a very interesting story . . .

Minnesota Soybean Story

U.S. Soybean farmers (through checkoff program) worked with Goodyear where the company used soy oil to put in car tires and the soles of shoes instead of a petroleum-based rubber product. In fact, Minnesota Soybean farmers gave the Marin County Sheriff’s department car tires for their department’s cars. The sheriff’s car, along with the sheriff, was present at the From the Ground Up event to show the car tires and listen to Sheriff Markquartdt talk about his experience with the soy-based Goodyear tires.

In addition, Minnesota Soybean is running a promotion where they are giving away Skecher shoes to frontline healthcare workers by a nomination process. It’s a great project to find common ground between ag and non ag by showcasing the innovations of soy.

Soy oil is also used as a biofuel, which is clean burning and a renewable fuel source. This is beneficial because we are lowering our dependence on petrochemicals and it has added performance benefits. This is something we can all get behind.

After drawing for door prizes, attendees were given the opportunity to drive/ride a tractor, fly a drone, and/or continue with great conversations.

From the Ground Up Driving a tractor

Our event was topped off with background music and emcee provided by Blake Pothoff from the Fairmont Opera House. And also another special acknowledgement to Hayley at Ad Mfg, Inc. who designed the program and all the graphics. A couple of home-grown community members that greatly enrich our local rural lives!

The best part for last

After raising money through sponsorships, the leftover profits will be split between Project 1590 and the local FFA groups. A win for everyone.

FFA serving food to the attendees

What IS the Key to success?

First and foremost, the most important aspect of a successful event such as From the Ground Up is having a committed and supportive local community. I also have to acknowledge how well our committee works together. Everyone has their own niche “expertise.” None of us can be all things for an event like this.

Why do I do this?

One reason I get excited about events like this is because of Logan. I do this for all the Logans out there. Logan is a little boy that was present during the entire day from setup to sundown. I did not know Logan until the day of the event. His energetic and enthusiastic personality is contagious. He is sooooo excited about farming! He unabashedly beams agriculture.

Logan planted 2 acres of crops this year – corn and soybeans. He is so proud of his “farm” and needed to tell me all about it. I was also informed by his family that he told them he will be unable to participate for sports this fall. Why? He will tell you it is because he is needed on the farm and that’s where he wants to be.

Logan was so excited about the From the Ground Up event. Smiling from ear-to-ear, he told me he wanted to show people how the combine works. In fact, he took an ear of corn and put it in one of the combine snoots, so he could show how a combine harvests corn.

It is children like Logan that reinforce why I advocate for agriculture.

He, along with many other “Logans” are our future.

This is why we all need to work hard at keeping the dreams of Logan alive. Thank you, Logan, for sharing your dreams and insights with me.

My final thought of the event. It was simply amazing and truly a memorable night.

Please check out the From the Ground Up Facebook page for additional pictures.