Bandita Jenny Dewey is a country girl at heart. Born and raised in Northern California and growing up in her parent’s butcher shop and deli, agriculture has always been a part of her life. She recently followed her heart to North Dakota where she is now engaged to a Sunflower farmer and works at his Ag supply business. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny loves to take photos with her DSLR, the challenges of bringing culture to the prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: http://jldphotographblog.com
Born and raised in the Northern central valley of California, agriculture has always been around me. Orchards of almonds and walnuts, fields of rice, olives, grapes, fresh fruit… You name it, California grows it. But I will admit, although I was surrounded by it.. I took agriculture for granted. It wasn’t until I moved halfway across the country that I realized how important role agriculture plays in the economies of states, to the local communities, and in the daily lives of farmers and ranchers across the nation. Almost one year ago to the date, I met a farmer from North Dakota via Twitter and the AgChat Foundation. http://agchat.org/ And after several months of meeting, talking, visiting North Dakota, etc. I fell head over heels in love and moved all the way to the rural prairies of North Dakota. I promise to keep it sans-mushy on here so follow my blog for more information on how our love story unfolds… http://jldphotographblog.com/tag/love/
What do you think of when you think of North Dakota…? Snow and the fact it’s beyond cold there…? The movie Fargo…? Oh, that’s where all the oil production is…? A lot of people say Mount Rushmore but that’s really South Dakota. While talking with people about moving, I was amazed at the lack of knowledge people actually have about North Dakota. And I will admit, I was one of those. I knew basically not a thing about North Dakota until I took up residence here. But upon moving here, I realized the people here live and breathe agriculture. Agriculture plays a vital part in counties’ economies across the state. Did you know North Dakota ranks first in the nation for the production of many crops including Spring wheat, Durum, Barley, Sunflowers, Edible beans, Flax seed, Canola, AND Honey with North Dakota producing well over 50% of some of those crops!
One of the most well-known products to come out of North Dakota is Durum. Durum is a type of wheat that is known for its density, high protein content, and gluten strength. Durum is the wheat of choice for producing pasta products. It gives pasta its golden hue, which is a characteristic unique to durum exclusively. When the durum is milled, it is ground into a product called semolina. The semolina is mixed with water to form a stiff dough. The dough is then forced through metal discs with holes to create hundreds of different shapes of pasta! Durum production is concentrated in North Dakota because it demands special growing conditions that can only be found here. North Dakota produces 68 percent of the entire United States durum crop! So the next time you throw those spaghetti noodles in the pot, thank a farmer from North Dakota because it very well may be North Dakota durum that made that pasta!
One of the least known and one of my favorite crops to come out of North Dakota is sunflowers! It’s safe to say I have never before witnessed fields of crops that are seemingly endless in California. But let me tell you, here in North Dakota there are fields as far as the eye can see… And well, there is definitely something magical about coming across a field of blooming yellow sunflowers as far as the eye can see. It literally makes you stop in your tracks and takes your breath away. Once the sunflowers grow and begin to bloom. It’s time for another player to become involved in the process, BEES! Farmers contract bee hives to be set near the fields and the bees go to work doing their job. Because of the symbiosis between the bees and the sunflowers grown here, North Dakota ranks number one in not only Sunflower production but also Honey production with the state producing 24% of the nation’s Honey and 43% of the nation’s Sunflowers!
Once the Sunflower seeds are harvested, they are used for primarily three different markets: oil production, de-hulls, and confection varieties. Sunflower seeds produced for oil are usually smaller and all black in color. Sunflower oil is the primary use for the seeds and has a variety of different uses from a healthier alternative for frying potato chips to even fuel! De-hulls (or basically de-shelled) are what you would find in your local grocery store to put on salads, chocolate covered, or simply to enjoy them without having to fight with a shell. The Confection varieties are roasted in the shell and sometimes flavored for you to enjoy at your favorite baseball game or an afternoon on the patio. Sunflower seeds are graded according to size and then separated. The largest size goes to be roasted and enjoyed in-shell, medium sizes are usually de-hulled, and the smallest size goes into the bird and pet food market! So the next time you’re enjoying sunflower seeds or even a bag of Lay’s potato chips, thank a North Dakota farmer for their contributions to your favorite snacks!
Who knew our frigid neighbor to the North of us, North Dakota, was such a leader in agriculture!? And in fact, North Dakota has a lot more to offer than just agriculture. There is such rich heritage and culture in North Dakota and for a state that boasts 9.3 people per square mile, there is actually a lot to do here! Check out The North Dakota tourism site for some great information about visiting the great state of North Dakota! http://www.ndtourism.com/
I am extremely proud to say I am now from North Dakota… The land of sunflowers, honey, and wheat. Where tractors, combines, and pickup trucks reign supreme. Where painted sunset skies grace us every evening. And where winters consist of minus 20 with snow. 😉
For other blog posts featuring North Dakota on Agriculture Proud, check out: http://agricultureproud.com/stamps-states-and-agfacts/north-dakota/
And for another post on MY Sunflowerfarmer, check out his feature on Agriculture Proud: http://agricultureproud.com/2012/03/21/agproud-sunflower-farmer-mark-rorich/
For more information about Jenny’s meat industry family back at home, check out their feature on Agriculture Proud:http://agricultureproud.com/2012/03/09/agproud-jenny-dewey-chico-locker-and-sausage/