Washington State Potato Commission: Sharing stories through 'Grown' program

Chris Voigt, presidentMarch 30, 2014 

Randy Mullen’s Farm outside of Pasco was filmed for one of the "Washington Grown" segments.

COURTESY WASHINGTON STATE POTATO COMMISSION

In spring 2013, several Washington farm groups, including the Washington State Potato Commission, Washington Association of Wheat Growers and Washington's Friends of Farms and Forests, united to help connect Washingtonians with the farmers and ranchers throughout our state. The effort is part of the Washington Farmers and Ranchers (WFR) collaboration.

The WFR partnership has created a platform to share the story about what Washington's rich diversity of agricultural products adds to our meals, our culture, our economy and the world. Last year, we launched a successful TV show, supported by a dynamic website. Our goal this year is to further develop content that will continue to allow people to learn more about Washington's farms and ranches.

We kicked into action with the debut of the popular Washington Grown TV show. The first 13 episodes highlight a different agricultural product grown or raised in our state. Viewers see how our local farmers and ranchers produce our food, and how some of the state's best chefs are using it. The show launched on Northwest Cable News last October, and continues to air on Sundays at noon and 8:30 p.m. It is also running on Spokane's PBS affiliate KSPS on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. We're already working on season two, and an additional 13 episodes that will begin airing in October this year.

Each episode is also available on our website, www.wagrown.com, along with information ranging from where you can go to buy directly from local farmers, to nutritional information and an assortment of recipes that have been highlighted on Washington Grown. The website is a great resource for any Washingtonian who wants to know more about where their food and other farm products come from.

Our efforts are based on the growing need to help take a proactive approach to sharing with people the importance agriculture plays in all of our lives. Just a few generations ago, children grew up knowing that meat, eggs and milk came from animals, bread was made from wheat that grew in fields, and potatoes grew underground. This wasn't just head knowledge gained in the classroom. Many had grown up on farms, and almost all the rest had access to farms through friends or family. They had seen the animals and the growing of fruit and vegetables for themselves. Urbanization has cut people off from their farming roots. For most children, food became something that comes from the grocery store.

But in recent years, more people have recognized their need to reconnect with the farmers and ranchers who help feed our families. Washington Grown -- the TV show and the website -- and future projects will make this possible in an interesting and entertaining way. We are equipping people to make informed food choices to suit their personal needs, lifestyle and budget.

Washington's farmers produce more than 300 different crops, from fruit and vegetables to meat, eggs and dairy products. Our farms and ranches are major employers, with a huge impact on the local economy, and products that go all over the world.

And it's not just about numbers. In Washington, farming isn't just a business -- it's a way of life. More than 90 percent of our farms are family owned, in the hands of regular people who want to be good stewards of the earth while providing a good product. By telling their stories, we're creating common ground where everyone can share the pleasures of good food from good farms that benefit us all.

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