So much of our culture tracks back to food and farming. However, few people ever get a chance to get the breadth of experiences that can help you get a good feeling for the variety of activities and the people who really power all of that. An insatiable curiosity teamed with jobs that have given me with a range of touchpoints has built a unique breadth and depth of understanding.
Food has forever held deep connections for me. Janice remembers her mom and grandmom canning and freezing much of the summer to be sure we had some of the best dinners year-round. The whole family would take empty bowls and grab handfulls of black-eyed peas from the bushel basket, and shell as a favorite show aired on TV, the staining from purple hull peas left an indellible mark in memories even if it eventually wore off the hands. There were plum trees and she vividly remembers picking and gathering plums for jams and jellies, as well as eating them right off the tree (and maybe occasionally throwing them or dodging the ones siblings had thrown). As an adult, Janice has been food adventurous. She’s learned to make dishes from friends homelands overseas and has had the chance to talk with chefs who have changed the food profiles of major cities. Traveling all 50 states and many parts of the world, she’s enjoyed amazing, priceless meals and eaten streetfoods in alleys or from a campfire in the middle of nowhere.
Although while growing up, the family occasionally would go to farm stands, Janice had very few and very limited interactions with agriculture. That changed radically after she got her master’s degree. In the decades since, she’s had the chance to visit hundreds if not thousands of farms all around the United States but also in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Looking at a shovel of soil and hearing the stories of the crops grown there got her started on this path of learning from farmers.
That depth and diversity of experiences, the trust that so many people involved in our food supply have for Janice, is more than unique. It delivers a perspective that can help stimulate new ideas and approaches to communications & outreach efforts or deliver a sense of wonder for audiences.
Whether you work with Janice on speaking, consulting or just having a good conversation over a cup of tea, food and farming is most likely going to come up!
PS — You can check out some of Janice’s connections via the blogs Hundred Percent Cotton (she has a deep love of cotton!) and JPlovesLIFE (the Farms A to Z and Agriculture A to Z give great overviews of people, crops, etc.