Contributed photo / Julie Fowler
A completed sign in the spring canola with (L-R) Erica Baldus, Tiffany Jacobs and Leslie Workman.
As of Tuesday, June 28, 2016
People driving through Idaho County this summer will notice some signs educating them on what is being grown in the farm fields next to the highways.
“The signs are an outreach project for our office,” said Julie Fowler, county executive director of Idaho County’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), as part of the nationwide USDA initiative, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.”
After more than a year of planning and with the help of a number of volunteers and sponsors, the project became a reality on June 1 when 30 signs were placed in Idaho County along highways 95 and 13 in Idaho County. The signs identify the crops growing in the field, such as “Soft White Winter Wheat,” and two of the signs—those flanking Grangeville—ask people to support their local farmers’ market.
“The key for us is raising awareness to the variety of crops and the importance of farming in our communities,” commented Fowler, who used GPS to identify locations for signs and then determined what crops were going to be planted or had already been planted alongside the highways.
The signs and posts were the handiwork of the Future Farmers of America chapters in Grangeville and Cottonwood. Using the metal shop classrooms at their high schools, the FFA members built the signs from materials furnished by sponsors.
Program technicians at the Idaho County FSA office – Erica Baldus, Tiffany Jacobs and Leslie Workman - helped with ordering the signs, designing the posts and installing the assembled signs with the help of Fowler’s husband, Boyd Hopkins, who also assembled the signs and posts in addition to storing and hauling them in his trailer.
The Idaho Wheat Commission, the Idaho County Grain Producers, the Idaho County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the USDA-Farm Service Agency, whose logos appear on the signs as thanks for their help, donated the funds needed to buy the materials.
The signs, which were placed at the edges of fields with farmers’ permission, are scheduled to come down in early August to avoid interfering with harvest. However, the Idaho County FSA staff plans to put them up again each May.
“With this outreach project we hope the signs will have a positive impact on people’s awareness of what farmers do and the impact on our communities,” Fowler commented.