Graham Meriwether

published Trust in Ruminations 2012-10-17 23:45:37 -0400


Kirksville Vocational Highschool is an amazing place. 

As I walked through into the ag building, I immediately knew this was a practical place of learning. Electrical saws and recently constructed wooden chairs indicated that this is a place where people make things and grow things, and in the process of doing so, learn things. It's the kind of place where students who want to be carpenters learn a craft, where students who want to be farmers learn to plant seeds, raise animals, and grow food and knowledge. 

Jason Dimmitt and Mary Leykamp were kind enough to welcome me into their school, to trust that together, the FFA students and all of us, would have a constructive conversation about agriculture. 

Students asked relevant, practical and vital conversations and we had discussions about what the advantages and disadvantages are of various forms of production. We talked about the fact that the mechanization of agriculture has allowed less people to feed more people, something that we should all be grateful for, that because of industrial farming we are able to sit here today and even have this conversation. We also talked about how this mechanization has led to a loss of population in rural America. That highschools often consolidate, and 2, 3, 4 school districts have to merge into one, in order to have enough young people in the seats learning, to have a school. At what point do we need to stop? Do we want drone tractors, peopleless tractors to raise our corn and soybeans, and to have one farmer per county, who's job is ultimately to make sure the tractors are running smoothly? That could be one future for agriculture. Or do we want to shift a larger percentage of our agriculture to pasture based systems, that are more labor intensive, and therefore will make it more possible for farm families to keep the next generation on the farm? What would happen if niche production moved from 1% of the market to 20%? Would that be a good thing for rural America? 

published All At the Table in Ruminations 2012-10-16 09:40:40 -0400

All At the Table

Screenings, like the rainstorms, are often hard to predict. 

Given that it was a Monday night, we weren't sure that the 125 seats set out would be filled up. When every chair had been filled and another 50 would need to brought out, we knew this would be a special night. 

Before we brought in more chairs. (Photo A. Trimbach)

Part time farmer and full time teacher Michael Siepel did an incredible job at putting together a panel of different perspectives of agriculture. With 10 people, it was the most people we have ever had, but surprisingly, because of the communication skills of the moderator, Dr. Jay Self of TSU, the hour long conversation flowed seamlessly from topic to topic, and from perspective to perspective. 

Cale Plowman, a sixth generation cattleman, who raises cattle in a monoslope system, spoke eloquently about how every farm is a family farm. He said that alternative farmers have done a great job of telling the story of production, and brining social components like farmers markets back, which he said is doing good for agriculture as a whole.  

published Generosity in Ruminations 2012-10-16 00:39:25 -0400


We headed East from Lawrence to the University of Missouri at Kansas City, UMKC as it is called. 

Andy's brother Dave joined us, who along with his partner Travis, generously hosted us in Lawrence. We got there about a half hour early, and had a good conversation with a couple of kind folks who arrived early and are enthusiastic about the food movement in KC. 

The perfect fall weather may have diverted more folks from attending than we expected, as about 40 people gathered to watch the documentary on Sunday night. 

In the conversation following, there was a lot of good energy. Alex Pope of the Local Pig talked about the difficulty of finding USDA inspected slaughterhouses, a big challenge for farmers and butcher shops trying to get animals harvested and sold directly to customers. 

published Sorghum in Ruminations 2012-10-14 14:31:20 -0400


We drove into Cole Camp, Missouri and found a vibrant downtown bustling with two concurrent fairs. 

One was Oktoberfest, which celebrates the German roots of the area, and the other- Prairie Days- which recreates the rural heritage and history of the region. 

Axe Toss. (Photo A. Trimbach)

We walked up to the axe toss, where an enthusiastic teenager offered us a try. Throw it like a baseball he said. We tossed the axes into a massive wooden stump, propped up like an artist's easel. A couple stuck in, and a couple dropped to the ground. 

A fellow there dressed in clothes from another century explained that they had combined the two events, so as to increase turnout. 

By the time we had checked out some old engines, a drizzle had begun and we took shelter in a nearby cafe. The drizzle grew into a rain, and then into a storm. 

After a couple hours, the rain mostly stopped and we went to a prairie, hills of red with changing sumacs.

High Lonsome Prairie, Oct. 2012. (Photo A. Trimbach)

Arriving at Cole Camp HS, we were greeted by tens of FFA members, students decked out in the signature FFA blue corduroy jackets with yellow letters. There is a lot of pride in our country's agriculture, and we were humbled to be guests of the school and the FFA. 

The evening started with a meal. Either a steak or a hamburger. The steak was $35 and the hamburger $13. All the money went to the FFA chapters of Benton County. More than a hundred people sat in the spacious gymnasium and ate dinner together. The food was excellent, as was the conversation. 



published Hard to Articulate in Ruminations 2012-10-13 14:50:39 -0400

Hard to Articulate

 We woke up in a motel near Monroe City and headed out to the Crowe family farm. 

Adair greeted us and we met his father, Keith soon after. 

As Andy got the gear prepped, we talked about the chores of the morning, and what we would shoot, and when. 

Adair Crowe. (Photo Andy Trimbach)

Adair is soft spoken with a full dark beard, and a measured calm. We hopped on the back of the ATV and it got colder as the speed picked up with the wind. A black dog ran along side the vehicle, barking and excited for another day on the farm. 


published Firsts in Ruminations 2012-10-12 13:10:24 -0400


Well- sometimes everything falls into place. 

We landed at Lambert and drove West into the sunset on 70. 

Shared a meal at the home of Nancy & Ken, who hosted us stragglers as well as good friends Paul & Phyllis Willis and Judy, too. We ate food and talked about pelliated woodpeckers. Then to the closest Motel 6 and to sleep.

endorsed 2012-10-11 10:34:43 -0400
Thank you to our farmers

Do you love us? Tell your friends!

Out of the 6 billion of people in the world, 2,386 love American Meat and you are one of them!

Won't you help us tell the world about American Meat?

commented on We're All Here 2012-08-13 17:21:22 -0400 · Flag
Thanks Regi for being a special voice. We’re excited to return in March, and hope to feature some of the work of Main Street Project in our coming documentary. Finally, and most importantly, thanks for farming and for developing food systems.

published Word's Getting Out in Ruminations 2012-08-01 16:46:37 -0400

Word's Getting Out

Word is getting out. 

Tom plopped down the locally raised hot dogs and brawts on the grill. 

Tom works the grill! (Photo S. Yao) 

He's the meat manager at the St. Peter's Food Co-op. The grill was filled with meat from Prairie Pride Farm, and were lucky enough to be joined by Dawn Hubmer, who raised the food we were all eating. 

Dinner. (Photo S. Yao)

Well over a hundred people poured into the parking lot area of the Treaty History Site, a thoughtful museum dedicated to the history of Nicollet County, and specifically to the Native American populations there. 

The museum where everything happened. 

People shared food at picnic tables and once those filled up, meandered through the museum learning about the past. 

Every seat of the hundred we put out was filled, and so we brought out more. 

John talks about how important it was that we were all there together. (Photo S. Yao)

Following the screening, we talked about the agriculture of the region, Tim talking about the difficulty for farmers to get land. And Dawn and John talking about they were lucky enough to either be born into, or marry into, land which made their careers in agriculture possible. Todd Lein, of Thousand Hills Cattle Company, who was at his 3rd screening and panel, talked about how important it was that we don't be too hard on ourselves, but that we make conscious decisions. 

The enthusiasm spilled over into the after screening conversations, and connections were made as to how we should screen at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter when we return in March.  

It's a good sign that we've seen our largest crowds towards the end of our screenings, perhaps an indicator, that word of our documentary, and of the food and conversations that have been a part of these events is beginning to strike a chord. Word is getting out. 



published Minneapolis Farmers Market in Ruminations 2012-07-30 11:31:57 -0400

Minneapolis Farmers Market

Sunday, Southern Minnesota got some much needed rain. 

That meant the crowds at the Minneapolis Farmers Market had to deal. 


A much needed day of rain Sunday at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. (Photo S. Yao)

We were there because the good folks, Susan and Rachele of the Minneapolis Farmers Market podcast, invited us to talk about the documentary and promote our upcoming event Wednesday August 1st


Rachele monitors audio during the downpour outside. (Photo S. Yao)

The makeshift sound studio was put to the test by the patter of the rain and the nearby interstate, but Rachele was able to make the sound work, and Susan led a conversation about agriculture that discussed why people are disproportionately interested in young farmers and what's happening at grass-based farms like Polyface. 


Susan asks a question about the local food movement. (Photo S. Yao)

It was a quick conversation, or at least it seemed that way, and we said goodbyes and headed south to Iowa to visit some friends there. 




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