'Back to the Farmer' exhibit showcases farming progress
"Back to the Farmer," an interactive agricultural experience exploring the continuous innovations and improvements of farming and their benefits, was a crowd favorite at the 2012 Iowa State Fair. An estimated 250,000 fairgoers visited the unique exhibit located in the south foyer of the Varied Industries Building. Powered by the Iowa Food & Family Project, "Back to the Farmer" featured a variety of ag-related contests and activities for people of all ages and a larger-than-life sculpture built from 14,890 canned and packaged food items. A time-lapse video of the build can be viewed at www.iowafoodandfamily.com.
On Aug. 21, the food items weighing more than 13,400 pounds were delivered to the Food Bank of Iowa benefiting those struggling with hunger. The contribution included 2,200 cans of sweet peas, 31 cases of spaghetti and meat balls and 31 cases of green beans. "The food is of amazing quality and will fly out of here," says Food Bank of Iowa Executive Director Carey Miller. "People are struggling and our team and the families we serve are extremely grateful to everyone who helped make this contribution possible."
Fairgoers also contributed nearly $7,000 to the IFBA. These donations included contributions from McCormick Co., Competitive Edge, Applied Art & Technology and The Big Show. "The Iowa State Fair is a place for fun, but it's gratifying to know that people still take the time to help those who have difficulty sourcing quality food," said Jordan Vernoy, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. "The resources provided by visitors to 'Back to the Farmer' will help provide more than 20,000 meals to hungry Iowans." In addition to helping Iowa food banks, fairgoers participated in activities showcasing the tremendous achievements of farm families past and present and the improvements yet to come that will enhance food productivity while safeguarding the environment and creating economic vitality. Nearly 3,500 visitors submitted registration cards where they offered specific questions and comments about farming and guessed the number of food items used in the exhibit.
Their names were entered for daily and grand prizes. Jeff Willier of Centerville won Casey's pizza for a year for most closely guessing the actual number of food items used in the display. Willier's entry was 14,986. Among those submitting registration cards, Jeff Adkins of Altoona was randomly chosen as the recipient of a $250 Hy-Vee gift card. Eleven additional registrants were awarded $50 Hy-Vee gift cards. Numerous special guests also made an appearance at the exhibit to contribute food items and visit with fairgoers. Rebecca Meyer, NBC's The Biggest Loser season 8 at-home winner, shared her insight on healthy eating and leading an active lifestyle while sports mascots Cy and Herky stopped by to rev up the crowd. Other notable guests included Sens. Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Congressmen Bruce Braley, Steve King and Tom Latham and Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey. "Back to the Farmer" sponsors were Hy-Vee, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Midwest Dairy Association, Farm Credit Services of America, Syngenta, Iowa Select Farms, Iowa Food Bank Association, United Soybean Board and Casey's General Store.
The Iowa Food & Family Project (www.facebook.com/foodnfamilies) is a purpose-driven initiative created by the Iowa Soybean Association and dedicated to inspiring greater awareness, understanding and trust between farmers and consumers. It's backed by more than 30 affiliates representing dedicated farm groups, food retailers, allied businesses and associations and food relief organizations. The Iowa FFP proudly serves as presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and supporter of Live Healthy Iowa, is funded in part by the soybean checkoff and guided by an 18-member advisory team.
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