Many people in the Kansas City area have close ties to agriculture, whether they currently work on a farm, or grew up on one and left. Or maybe their ancestors settled in the region to work the land.
This summer, Harvest Public Media is exploring the farm heritage of people in our area in a series called My Farm Roots.
My Farm Roots was inspired by Storycorps, where regular people narrate their own stories. Harvest reporter Peggy Lowe told KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross that she usually focuses on hot-button agricultural issues, like the split between organic and traditional farming. But these stories bring out themes that unite different kinds of farmers.
“In My Farm Roots we’re finding a common theme, and that is people who love the land, and who love producing food, and who love feeding people,” Lowe said.
The series will focus on people like Nan Gardiner, of Ashland, Kansas, who with her husband Henry, pioneered the use of the Angus breed in Kansas.
“These people are representative of agriculture, and of how the Midwest was populated,” Lowe said. “Or how certain breeds of cattle became popular, or how corn acreage was multiplied over the years. They are always representative of a larger issue, but their little stories are what’s the most interesting.”
Lowe said they've found people to tell their stories through word-of-mouth, as well as through the Harvest Network, a crowd-sourcing tool. She hopes they will continue collecting and archiving these stories long past this summer.
Over the next eight weeks, My Farm Roots will air on KC Currents, and every Wednesday morning on Morning Edition.