Versailles FFA members delivering a meal to a local farmer last fall. Picture provided by Laura Wuebker.

Farmers feed the world, Versailles FFA feeds the farmers

By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter

Plant in the spring, sidedress, spray and wait all summer, then finally begin harvesting come fall. It is no secret that farmers dedicate their lives to growing the food that feeds our world. They spend hours upon hours in the fields yet do so without complaining because they truly love what they do. 

In an attempt to give back to those who keep the agriculture industry running, the Versailles FFA Chapter created the Feed the Farmer program. 

“Feed the Farmer is an important program to show our appreciation to the farmers who feed us and play such an important role in our lives,” said Emma Middendorf, a sophomore member of the Versailles FFA Chapter. 
Dena Wuebker and Taylor Bergman, the agricultural educators at Versailles High School, recognized the need to support their community’s farmers. Free time is hard to come by for farmers during harvest so the potential for them to gather at a group breakfast or dinner just wasn’t feasible. Instead, the chapter decided to meet the farmers right where they were — in the field. 

Throughout the busy harvest season, typically late September to early November, FFA members gathered every Tuesday and Thursday after school to package meals. These meals included a hot sandwich, chips, yogurt, an apple, milk and of course, dessert. Once packaged, the students and their advisors then delivered those meals to local farmers in the field. 

Not only does the program give farmers the recognition they deserve but allows members in the chapter to step out of their comfort zones, grow in their communication skills and serve their community.

“The Feed the Farmer program is very important because it progresses the social skills and interactions of members by going up to the farmers and introducing themselves and explaining why they are bringing them the meals. It also shows our appreciation towards all the farmers and everything they do to help feed America,” said Dakota Overholser, a sophomore member of the Versailles FFA Chapter. 

The program piloted last year for the 2019 harvest season and they were able to expand their efforts this year, delivering meals to over 150 farmers. In addition to the Versailles community, the chapter fed farmers in the North Star, Osgood, Yorkshire, Willowdell and Greenville communities.  

The chapter isn’t just supporting local farmers through the program. 

“The Versailles FFA Chapter is trying to promote every aspect of agriculture through each meal. The milk and yogurt support the dairy industry, the ham sandwiches support hog farmers and so on. Through feeding the farmers in our community we’re also supporting agriculture on a larger scale,” said Laura Wuebker, a senior member of the Versailles FFA Chapter. “I love how the farmers are always overjoyed to see the students out in the field with the meals. They work tirelessly to grow the food that fuels our country and they appreciate seeing youth supporting the industry that they give their lives to.”

Versailles FFA hopes to continue to feed local farmers and support the agriculture industry for years to come.

“I see it sticking around for a while seeing how much support we get from the community and how much the farmers appreciate it. We’re definitely grateful for the continued support of the Darke County Farm Bureau as well as Sunrise Cooperative who help make this event possible,” Wuebker said.

Here’s what other members of the chapter enjoy most about the program:

“The thing I enjoy most about this program is the amount of smiles and appreciation each farmer shows us. It’s so rewarding for us to know that we made their day and that they are able to enjoy a nice meal during such a busy time of harvesting.” — Elise George

“I enjoy feeding the farmers, seeing their eyes light up when we give them a free meal and hearing them say ‘thank you,’ I was not sure what I was going to have for supper tonight.” —Emma Middendorf

“I enjoyed looking at and learning about all the different machines and equipment working in the field.” — Jeremiah Wagner

“What I enjoyed most about Feed the Farmers is being able to go out and see the smile on the farmers face when they find out that they are getting a free meal.” — Dakota Overholser

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