A word of Thanks,
Welcome to the first #farmer feature post of The 2% Project and happy #foodthanks day! Today The 2% Project features Dolly Farms of Leroy IL. I would like to take this opportunity to thank this inspiring young farm family for participating in the project as well as agreeing to be the first to farmer feature post within the project. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed working with Jenny and Eric on this project. Now on to Dolly Farms!
Dolly Farms of Leroy IL is owned and operated by the Mennenga Family. They are young, educated, and aspiring 4th generation family farmers who use today’s modern technology to care for their crops and livestock in an efficient and humane manner in order to provide consumers with quality meat and grain products. I am grateful to have met them, and am thankful they are part of this project. Here is their story:
Our Farm Story (By Jenny Mennenga)
Dolly Farms Inc. is a mid-sized family farm which is wholly owned and operated by Eric and Jenny Mennenga of Leroy, Illinois, producing #2 Yellow Corn and Soybeans. Some of the soybeans we produce are used for seed beans (for a seed company) which will be grown in the following year by other farmers. We also have a small cow-calf herd, and maintain over 100 acres of pasture. What makes our operation unique is that we both come from farm families, but were are farming independently from our families. We also are quite a bit younger than most farmers in the area, Eric is 34 and Jenny is 33. We feel our niche to the market is not to be the biggest, but strive to do the best job that we can do. We utilize technology fully, but rely on sound agronomics and common sense. We surround ourselves with smart people, such as accountants, lawyers, mechanics, and input suppliers who help us make the best decisions possible for our family farm.
Eric is a graduate of Illinois State University in Ag Industry Management and Jenny is a graduate of Iowa State University in Agronomy and Seed Science. In addition to farming, Jenny has a seed dealership and Eric works for Illinois Department of Transportation in the winter time plowing snow. We have 3 kids under the age of 5 that our farm supports along with our “part time” jobs.
Our biggest concerns are the rapidly growing world population, and the pressure the farming community is going to face in feeding, clothing, fueling this population boom. Also, as farmers have become a 2% minority. We will face increasing mandates on water usage, pollutants, and other standards that may be difficult or impossible to manage.
Farming is a very noble profession, and we are proud to be a part the 2%. If you have any farming questions, I would be happy to answer on Twitter at @JennyMennenga2 or @DollyFarms.
Welcome to The 2% Project and Thank you for visiting!
So what is The 2% Project?
The 2% Project is an ongoing effort to bridge the gap between consumers (which includes everyone) and those who produce our food, ie farmers, producers, growers etc.
If you are a consumer concerned about where your food comes from, how its made and how it gets to your plate, this project is for you. If you are a farmer who wishes to tell your Farm Story to educate others about what you produce, how you produce it, why you do what you do and how you got to where you are today, this project is for you. The 2% Projects purpose is to correctly educate others (consumers and farmers alike) by providing factual information to lessen the educational and generational gaps between consumers and farmers, and bring the understanding of todays modern farms to all of our dinner tables.
Why is there a gap between consumers and farmers today? Three facts can answer that question.
- Today, a mere 2% of todays population produce (originate) quality food products for the remaining 98% as well as themselves.
- The average person is said to be 3 generations removed from direct contact with todays farm.
- Todays modern farms are much different than farms were years ago, and many of the modern farming practices used today are largely misunderstood by the general public and by other farmers as well.
These facts are the basis for this project. With the average person being 3 generations removed from a farm, the modernization of todays farms and only 2% of the population actually farming these days, it’s totally understandable that the majority of people are not familiar with or simply don’t know where, how or by who their food is produced. The 2% Project will provide both consumers and farmers,(producers, growers) an opportunity to gain a better understanding of each other through respectful education on how modern farms work. This will be done by giving the farmer an opportunity to tell their own unique “Farmer’s Story” about their farm, family, what products they produce as well as how and where they produce it.
Just like any business you may patronise in our cities and towns, every farm is unique, every farm family has their own history and story to tell. Therefore every effort will be made to invite and include farms of all types (large and small, Livestock, Grain etc), methods (ie Organic, Conventional, GMO,etc), and end products. Currently Farmers who produce everything from meats to grains, as well as other food products are involved in The 2% Project and are looking forward to posting their Farm Story here on this projects page. Their stories will be posted in the near future, so feel free to check back often, comment on their stories, get to know and talk to the farmers and get involved in:
one of the most important things there is in life,
For more information or to be directly involved in the project, email me at:
Thank you for your interest in The 2% Project!
Many of you may be wondering what is going on with the 2% Project right now. Not much seems to be going on on the surface but a lot is going on behind the scenes. I have (finally) completed a basic interview form. So those that have expressed interest in the project will be recieving them soon (as long as I have their email addy). Anyone else who is interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org asap to receive the form. The form is just a way for me to get to know some basic information about you and your farm. After you fill it out and return it to me, I will contact you about creating a post featuring your farm asap.
In other news, keep an eye out in the Illinios Agri News this friday for an article on the project! I cant wait to read it!
Finally, The first farm feature will be up and running in time for #foodthanks day as well as Thanksgiving. The feature will be from Dolly Farms of Leroy IL. ( @dollyfarms ) I will be getting together with them soon to do their full interview and complete their feature post!
Thank you all for the continued interest in the project as this all comes together.
What do other people think about that? What do other people think about this? What do other people think about me? What do other people think about you?
Have you ever found yourself asking those questions? People who market their products, themselves, or their business are constantly concerned with these questions. They want to have a say in what the publics Preconceived notion of what they are trying to market is and make sure that it is a positive one. It’s a logical thing to do really. Afterall why would you want someone to think negatively of you, your business or your products that you produce without really knowing much about it?
So how does this relate to ”The 2% Project” you ask? Well, lets ask the question, what is the Consumers Preconceived notion about Farming? (consumers reading this are highly encouraged to comment with their thoughts on this) About Farmers? About Food Production? I’m sure there are all kinds of answers for these questions. Some may be positive, some may be negative, some may include stories about how their grandparents used to farm, some may include stories about trips to the fall pumpkin patch. The list is endless. So, I ask you, how do you want to be thought of?
As you ponder about that last question, I am curious what you would like to know about (other) Farms and Farmers. I am putting together a standard interview form for each farmer/producer involved in this project and would like your input. The more questions I have to ask each person about their farm, the better and more interesting the posts will be. Please either comment your questions below, or email the project at
As the quote on the right of this page says, Education, open-mindedness, and respect are the key to understanding. It also takes all three of those key points to overcome a preconceived notion and change it to reality based knowledge. With this project, I believe that if the right questions are asked as well as answered in a respectful, honest, and positive manner, readers of this project will always have the opportunity to walk away with a positive experience. Those readers could then provide others with a positive preconceived notion when asked:
What do you think about Farming?
Thank you for your thoughts as well as your support for The 2% Project
For mor info contact me at:
Over the last 2 weeks or so, life has taken me down a path which I least expected. Since I tweeted my 2% tweet:
“I am of the 2%, The 2% of the population who chooses to work hard to produce quality #food products for the 98%. I am a #farmer #occupycombine”
…I have been mentioned in a UK e-newspaper, the NPR’s blog (along with @farmerhaley and @sunflowerfarmer) and most recently have been contacted by Reuters News who interviewed me about the project as well as the #occupycombine movement. In that same time period, interest in the 2% Project, from farmers/producers/growers and consumers alike, has skyrocketed. That being said, I have created a Facebook Page for the Project: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-2-Project/121195734656751?ref=pb as another avenue to keep everyone up to date how it is coming along.
Many farmers have expressed interest in being featured in the project. Currently the list includes a wide variety of farmers from Cattle farms to Corn and Soybean producers to Popcorn growers and beyond. The diversity of the agricultural community is huge, and is key to this projects success. If you are interested in participating in any way, please DM me on twitter (@boucherfarms) message me on Facebook through the projects page or simply email me at email@example.com.
To those of you who have already expressed interest, I am working on an interview form and hope to go over it with you soon. Please take the time to think about what you may want to tell other farmers and consumers alike about your farming story. Everyone’s story will be unique, so please do not be shy, there is no right or wrong way to tell your story. I also highly encourage you to find a few pictures of you, your family and or your farm to be included in your feature. Putting a face on ag is key and makes the feature post much more personal to you and others alike.
Thank you for your continued support of the 2% Project. Featured posts of the farmers/producers/growers who provide quality food products will be coming soon, so feel free to follow this site to keep up to date on the project!
Thank you again,
Since many people have asked about goals, guidelines and etc, within the project, here are some of my thoughts
Basic goals for The 2% Project:
- To accurately tell the story of the American Farmer in a way which both consumers and other farmers can easily relate.
- To provide farmers/producers with a direct way to communicate with the consumers by telling their story.
- To educate others about how, who, when and where their food products are produced/grown/created etc.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: Represent the agricultural community as well as the consumers in a respectful manner so everyone can benefit.
Basic Guidelines of the 2% Project:
All posts will be completed in a respectful manner and will have final approval of the featured person(s) involved before posted publicly.
Intelligent open-minded conversation is encouraged and welcomed on all posts/comments.
Disrespectful Negativity will not be tolerated against anyone or production method in the posts or comments. If any is found, it will be removed and reported asap.
Every effort will be made to include farmers of all backgrounds, food products and production methods, however no balance between them is guaranteed due to #5 below.
Inclusion in the project is strictly on a volunteer basis.
Recently the Occupy this/that/ and the other movements have been increasing in popularity around the country. This movement has brought many issues to the forefront of the media who have passed those concerns along to the rest of the American public. One resounding thing that has come out of the Occupy movement has been percentages. By now I’m sure you’ve heard about 1% this, 53% that, and 99% the other. After seeing the protests and hearing all the talk on the percentages I was inspired to tweet this to my twitter feed:
“I am of the 2%. The 2% who chooses to work hard to produce quality #food products for the 98%. I am a #farmer #occupycombine”
That single tweet has been retweeted (passed along to other tweeters) countless times by others and has basically gone viral in the ag twitter world as of late. After seeing the huge response for that tweet, I was inspired to create this blog with the intentions of telling the Farmer’s Story.
These days, the average person is said to be 3 generations removed from direct contact with the farm. This fact translates to a mere 2% of the world’s population who actually farms, produces, raises, creates (if you will) todays food products. With only 2 out of every one hundred people actually producing food for everyone else, it’s no surprise that the general publics knowledge of farms in general, knowledge of where their food comes from and knowledge of how their food is raised, grown and cared for, is not as strong as it should be.
In the coming months, this blog will begin to tell the Story of the American Farmer, to educate the public about farms and food, as well as bridge the generational gap between the general public and todays Modern Farmer.
Please subscribe, and visit back often to be involved in the 2% Project.