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November 15, 2018
Harvey County IndependentNovember 15, 2018 Harvey County Independent

Family's return to farming chronicled by Iowa Public TV

Posted 11/15/2018

Joni Embree-Meinders, right, inspects a pasture fence as John Torpy, a producer for Iowa Public TV, films her. Her family’s decision to relocate from Des Moines, Iowa, back to the farm near Burrton where she grew up is being turned into a documentary. Joni Embree-Meinders, right, inspects a pasture fence as John Torpy, a producer for Iowa Public TV, films her. Her family’s decision to relocate from Des Moines, Iowa, back to the farm near Burrton where she grew up is being turned into a documentary. By Jared Janzen

BURRTON—Joni Embree-Meinders and her family are bucking a trend.

According to USDA, the average age of a farmer in America is 68, and across the Midwest, rural farming communities are seeing the trend of younger generations moving to larger cities.

The Embree-Meinders family decided to do the opposite.

Over the summer, Joni, her husband Zach and their three kids moved from suburban life in Des Moines, Iowa, back the family farm south of Burrton where Joni grew up.

The family’s journey is being followed by Iowa Public Television in a series of four episodes on the show “Market to Market,” which also airs on KPTS in Kansas. The episodes have sought to highlight some of the challenges farmers and small towns like Burrton face as more people tend to flock toward larger cities.

“It’s just bringing to light that rural areas are struggling because people aren’t coming back,” Joni said about the series.

The family made the move over the summer, with Zach coming in early June to help with wheat harvest, and Joni and the kids followed in July.

Joni, Zach and the kids have rejoined her father, Alan Young; uncle, Gregg; and grandfather, John, in operating the farm that’s been in the family for generations. The family owns about 3,000 acres of row crops to the south of Burrton and around 100 cattle.

If Joni and Zach wouldn’t have made the move back to Kansas to help with farm operations, she speculated that eventually, the family farm would have needed to be sold off.

“Absolutely, they wouldn’t have had a choice,” she said about selling the farm. “They wouldn’t have had a choice, because they would have killed themselves. There’s just so much work. […] I would have watched my family and the farm just deteriorate.”

Joni has stepped into the role of manager at the farm, and she said the biggest challenge so far has been finding the confidence to make decisions. While farming isn’t foreign to her, it has been the better part of two decades since she’s lived on a farm.

Joni spent part of her childhood in Mount Hope before her family moved to the country when she was in middle school. She’s a graduate of Haven High School, and back then, she would help out around the farm.

“I worked on irrigation and cut hay and raked it,” she said. “I did all the minor jobs, nothing real major, and I didn’t really have any knowledge of the business end of. That didn’t concern me and nobody needed me to know that.”

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Neighbors Store collecting food, gifts for holidays

Posted 11/15/2018

By Bill BushThe Neighbor’s Store in downtown Halstead looked like Christmas time in early November with the Christmas display in its windows and a gentle snowfall outside.The Neighbor’s Store in downtown Halstead looked like Christmas time in early November with the Christmas display in its windows and a gentle snowfall outside.

HALSTEAD—With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, The Halstead Neighbors Store is busy preparing food and gifts for local families in need.

Alice Page, director of The Neighbors Store, said that Thanksgiving food boxes will be passed out on Monday, Nov. 19. The Neighbors Store is looking for donations of typical Thanksgiving meal items, such as turkey or turkey breast, boxed potatoes, stuffing, canned fruit and vegetables, pie and money for fresh produce and other food items.

If any family has trouble buying their Thanksgiving meal they can go in to the Neighbors Store and sign up for a box. The same goes for Christmas Angel Wreaths.

“We’re already signing up, now,” Page said. “If anyone is going to have trouble buying gifts for their kids, this year, they can come in and sign up. We bring those over to Troy’s when we get them. Then, people can pick up the child’s list and buy them gifts.”

The date for bringing donated gifts to the Neighbor’s Store is Dec. 12. They will be distributed on Dec. 17.

So far, sign-ups have been slow for Christmas gifts. According to Page, many parents have taken information home, but midway through last week, only eight or 10 had returned them.

In addition, Page said there are certain grocery items they can always use, like shampoo, cereal, spaghetti sauce, canned goods and other non-perishable items.

“It takes lots of volunteers to keep it all running,” Page said. “The community has always been very generous and very supportive of Neighbors. We’re thankful for that.”

In fact, Page said they already had enough volunteers to help distribute the Thanksgiving food baskets and the gifts at Christmastime.

Page also encourages everyone to shop at The Neighbors Thrift Store, because the proceeds help fund the activities of the ministry.

“I would encourage people, that shopping is open to everybody,” she said. “Anybody is welcome to come in and get a good deal on Christmas items or whatever.”

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Sedgwick students pay tribute

Posted 11/15/2018

Local American veterans enjoyed a special presentation by Sedgwick’s elementary school children, done as a ‘thank you’ for their service.Local American veterans enjoyed a special presentation by Sedgwick’s elementary school children, done as a ‘thank you’ for their service.By Bill Bush

SEDGWICK—On Monday afternoon, students at R.L. Wright Elementary School invited local military veterans to participate in their Veterans Day Program.

The students gave the veterans the royal treatment.

Upon entering the school, veterans and guests were welcomed by students, who held open the doors, greeters, who welcomed them with warm, friendly smiles and ushers to guide them to the check-in table, to the snack room and ultimately, to the auditorium.

The program included thank you speeches by sixth graders Gaby Peterson and Austin Thieme, presentations by several students on the history of Veterans Day and the singing of patriotic songs by the students.

Veterans in attendance introduced themselves and shared when and where they had served.

The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance and ended with the corporate singing of the National Anthem.

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