Harvest season is to farmers what Black Friday is to retail stores: Long hours, high stress and a lot of things that need to get done in a short amount of time.
But unlike Black Friday, the chaos of harvest season lasts much longer than one day (or a Midnight sale).
Farmers start their days well before the sun rises and aren’t finished until long after the sun sets during harvest. As farmers are harvesting the food, fiber and fuel that meets the demands of a growing world population, they also have to find time to grab a bite to eat themselves.
That’s where some local business step up to provide “harvest meals,” fresh food brought straight out to the field so farmers can have a good meal before getting back to work so the rest of the world can eat.
“As a farmer myself, I know it gets old eating cold sandwiches all the time,” said Evan Oberdieck of Hefty Seed in Fairmont, Minn. “Harvest meals are something we can do to say thanks to farmers, who are also our customers.”
Oberdieck says that Hefty Seed has been delivering about 500 harvest meals per year for the last six years. The local seed company has already brought out 325 meals in 2014, so this could be a record year.
“We feel it is very important to say ‘thank you’ to our growers and this is one way that we do it,” Oberdieck said.
Bob LeCocq is credited with starting a Harvest Lunch program at AgStar Financial Services where he works as a financial services officer. He says the program is consistent with AgStar’s model of on-farm service, where meetings with farmers are held in the field, standing around the pickup truck or at the kitchen table.
“The Harvest Lunch visits help us stay connected to our clients and we can help them out with a basic need,” LeCocq said. “This is obviously an important time for them.”
From a farmer’s perspective, having a pork chop or hot beef commercial delivered straight to the combine means a lot.
“I will be the first to say, I LOVE harvest meals,” said Wanda Patsche, a corn, soybean and pork producer in southern Minnesota. “It really does give you a little bit of relief knowing a meal will be delivered to you.”
Patsche credits AgStar for starting harvest meals in her area about 10 years ago. Over the last five or six years, other companies have picked up on the idea and it’s become an area trend once the combines start rolling.
“It’s a great way to show appreciation for farmers and customers,” Patsche said.
Even if it’s not a full meal, it’s still appreciated. Jessica Noble, a State Farm agent in Worthington, brings out snack bags packed with water, jerky, cookies and other goodies.
“For me, it’s a highlight to get out in the fields and ride along in the combines,” she said. “I care about these guys and what they are doing, so why wouldn’t I show them that by being out there?”