Patricia Grotenhuis is a farmer, mom of three children with a baby on the way, wife and communications coordinator with a strong agriculture advocacy effort in Food and Farm Care Ontario. Pat is originally from Sarnia, Ontario and currently resides in Palmerston, Ontario with her husband Daryl and busy kids, Seth, Aaron and Jesse. I have worked in in both Guelph, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta and traveled frequently in Canada in my past career work. Plus growing up just south of Manitoba, my appreciation for Canadian agriculture is strong. Through my work there as well as through the AgChat Foundation which how I got to know Pat, I have a great respect for many Canadian women in agriculture.
I love the personalized outreach of Food and Farm Care to Canadian non-ag consumers, the inclusive approach to include all of Canadian agriculture, the specific farm facts that are shared and “The Real Dirt On Farming” effort. Sign up here for The Real Dirt On Farming Twitter party on November 18. Stay connected with the Food and Farm Care effort on their blog, second new blog Caring For The Land, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube channel and connect directly to Pat on her personal Twitter.
Get to know Pat as a communications force behind the Food and Farm Care Ontario effort but also just as a fabulous voice for farm moms and women in agriculture. I love what she shares below in her own words but especially the acknowledgement that not all farms are the same but that we share the same or similar goals. She is also very secure in her words of who she is in agriculture. She is a woman that wears many hats, juggles different roles and is comfortable doing it. We can all be inspired by her example.
What is your role in agriculture today? Today I am one of two Communications Coordinators at Farm & Food Care Ontario and a dairy farmer. For my “day job”, I handle the social media portion of communications for Farm & Food Care Ontario. Most of my time is spent blogging and managing the Facebook and Pinterest accounts, although I do help with other jobs. In addition to that, I’m working alongside my husband on our farm. For more about Farm & Food Care Ontario and what we do, you can visit us at www.farmfoodcare.org
How has agriculture shaped your life? I am proud to say I am the sixth generation of my family to be farming in Canada. I grew up on a dairy and cash crop farm where, in an effort to teach us more about farming, my parents let us have our own little herds of animals. I decided to have a goat herd because I loved their small size and big personality. I managed that herd from the time I was 9 until after I graduated from university. Working with animals, helping crops grow and taking care of the environment are passions of mine that all came from being raised on a farm. I also learned the value of hard work, that nothing worth having will come easily, and how great it is to feel a sense of pride in a job well done. I could never leave agriculture since I love it so much, so every job I have had was linked to agriculture in one way or another.
What excites you about your community? The community we live in now is a great place to be. I love the fact that we live in a rural area and the closest city is an hour away. Even though we have no shopping malls close by, and few chain stores, I can always find what we need for our family and the farm within a 20 minute drive of home. Plus, as I shop, I know I am helping support local businesses. Our community also offers a variety of groups, events and sports teams for our family to participate in.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? It seems like I am always trying things for the first time, whether I think about it at the time or not. Currently, I am learning how to do the chores in my husband’s family’s barn. That may seem like a strange thing to say – aren’t all farms the same? Well, no, they actually are not. Each farmer has their own way of caring for the animals and land. All come to the same end goal, which is having healthy, comfortable animals and healthy crops and soil, while making sure our impact on the environment is minimized. Getting there is like following a maze, though, because what works on one farm may not work on the other. It means when we go from one farm to another, whether to work there or visit, we have to keep open minds and be prepared to learn another of the many right ways of doing things. It also means if one of our previously “tried and true” methods is not working, we have a large network of farmers we can call on for their input to find a method that does work.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? I try to encourage others by reminding them of the obstacles they have overcome in the past, and reassuring them that no matter how hard things get, or how impossible a situation seems, they will find a way to improve it. I also remind them they are not alone, and true friends are right there with them ready to help, even if it is just by listening. I believe in positive reinforcement, so I look for opportunities to give compliments or remind someone of what a great job they are doing. My parents have always been huge cheerleaders of mine, and the pep talk my dad gave me before every hockey game I played rings true in everything I do “go out there and have fun, because that’s when you do your best.” I am also extremely lucky to have found a job where my boss and coworkers do their best to keep a positive work environment. Nothing brightens a day like going through a long list of emails and finding one that says “you did a great job on that assignment. Thank you for all of your hard work”.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? My favourite home-cooked meal is my great-grandma’s meatball recipe served with mashed potatoes (which I normally top with a little bit of meatball sauce), and peas or corn, with a big glass of milk to wash it down. It is comfort food at its finest, and everyone in my family loves it. When a recipe has been passed down through that many generations, you know it has to be good.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? If I had the chance to share a message with a large group of people, I would encourage them to get to know farmers so they can find out where their food comes from. I would tell them about the hard work that goes into producing the food, and also about the passion farmers have for their jobs. When you choose to be a farmer, you are choosing a lifestyle, not just a job. It fills your time, and you never really get a break from it. Even when you are not at the farm you are thinking about it and what you could do to improve your practices (even though they are already reaching a high standard). Farmers love that, though. We love waking up in the morning knowing the job we are doing is so important, and we love going to bed at night seeing how much we have accomplished (even though there is still plenty to do the next day). My husband is always setting goals for himself, and as soon as they are achieved, he has set more goals, which will be harder to achieve. Farmers want to do their best to care for the animals and the environment because we know that if we don’t, people could get sick, we could cause irreversible harm to the environment, and the way of life many people have would be changed.
What makes you smile? There are many things that make me smile. I love watching our boys play with their puppy, or running around with each other. I love family time, whether it’s a quiet dinner with my husband and our children before chores or a gathering of 90 of my aunts, uncles and cousins for Christmas. I love watching the heifers and dry cows go out on pasture for the first time in the spring. I love going to church and really thinking about the sermon. Listening to music, whether it is on the radio, being played by someone else, or being played by me on the piano, always cheers me up. I enjoy reading a good book or watching a good movie. I enjoy plowing, and used to plow competitively in plowing matches. I only did it for a few years, but had a lot of fun. I love being outside and being around animals, whether it is for work or pleasure. I enjoy playing sports, although I find I don’t have the time for them anymore and competitive hockey has been replaced by teaching my children to skate. Most of all, I enjoy the satisfaction I feel knowing that I am right where I should be in life, with an amazing family, doing work that I love both at home on the farm and at my job.
Thank you, Pat for being a strong voice for women in agriculture and for all that you do to connect others to Canadian agriculture!
For those looking for regular Pinke Post updates, stay connected this month with me on Facebook and Instagram. I am also sharing five giveaways this month through this Women In Ag series. If you are in the Bismarck, North Dakota area, this is the first giveaway that you can enter until November 14, 2014. You can subscribe by email in the right column and not miss a post or an upcoming giveaway. You can also find links to each feature in the Women in Agriculture series below. Get to know all of these fabulous ladies!