From the Ground Up - Reconnecting With Agriculture

More and more folks are beginning to have their first backyard garden experience or their first trip to a farmers’ market to check out the local fare. There’s one school of thought that thinks this may help bridge the disconnect that most consumers have today with the agricultural industry as a whole. Catherine Manterola is a seventh generation farmer and rancher just outside of Calvert.

“It’s different because this is a large scale operation so it’s almost in reverse. How do we take a large scale, and scale it down, to reach daily consumers on a different level? There’s no such thing as good food and bad food. There’s no such thing as small is good. Big is bad. There’s just different ways of doing things.”

Manterola believes that people wanting to know more about where their food comes from is good for agriculture.

“When you’re talking about people that live in the cities, or people that live in the country that are disconnected to this type of farming, a way, the way I see, is a good way to reach them is that they already have an interest in going to a farmers’ market to buy their produce. Well, if they’re getting their eggs and their vegetables from someone at the farmers’ market, then I think they’re going to get more curious about buying their beef local too, or even just working with something as large as all of us and The Texas Beef Council.”

It’s Manterola’s hope that backyard gardeners or folks doing business with local farmers will start to relate to agriculture.

“You know starting with small farmers, people curious in something, I’m going to buy this lettuce because it’s not very expensive and I like this person and then they get into that mentality of shopping local and then I hope that moves into meat on a larger scale and I’m not saying in Texas don’t eat beef from another state. It’s just that when you start thinking about what you’re eating you become a more conscious consumer.”

And that, says Manterola, can get people to think about where their food comes from.

“You start thinking about the land again and the agriculture and you think of farmers as not someone who, this is what they do because it’s an old way to make a living, it’s these people, there are people out there that are still working this, that this is still the way that they make a living and then they become a person and not just an industry.”