So much of our culture tracks back to food and farming. But in today’s urban/suburban world, few people get a breadth of experiences that help them discover the kinds of activities and people who really power all of that. An insatiable curiosity teamed with jobs that have given Janice Person a range of touch points has built a unique breadth and depth of understanding of our food & the farms that produce it.
Food has forever held deep connections for Janice. She remembers her mom and grandmom canning and freezing much of the summer to be sure we had some great dinners year-round. The whole family would take empty bowls and grab handfuls of black-eyed peas from the bushel basket, and shell as a favorite show aired on TV, the staining from purple hull peas left an indelible mark in memories even if it eventually wore off the hands. There were plum trees and she vividly remembers picking and gathering plums for jams and jellies, as well as eating them right off the tree (and maybe occasionally throwing them or dodging the ones siblings had thrown).
As an adult, Janice has been food adventurous. She’s learned to make dishes in friend’s homelands overseas and has had the chance to talk with chefs who have changed the food profiles of major cities. Traveling all 50 states and many parts of the world, she’s enjoyed amazing, priceless meals and eaten street foods in alleys or from a campfire in the middle of nowhere.
Although while growing up, the family occasionally would go to farm stands, Janice had very few and very limited interactions with agriculture. That changed radically after she got her master’s degree. In the decades since, she’s had the chance to visit hundreds if not thousands of farms all around the United States but also in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Looking at a shovel of soil and hearing the stories of the crops grown there got her started on this path of learning from farmers. (This podcast episode shares some of the stories of traveling around the globe and visiting farms.)
That depth and diversity of experiences, the trust that so many people involved in our food supply have for Janice, is more than unique. It delivers a perspective that can help stimulate new ideas and approaches to communications & outreach efforts or deliver a sense of wonder for audiences.
Whether you work with Janice on speaking, consulting or just having a good conversation over a cup of tea, food and farming is most likely going to come up!
You can check out some of Janice’s connections via the podcast & website Grounded by the Farm, or the blogs Hundred Percent Cotton (she has a deep love of cotton!) and JPlovesLIFE (the Farms A to Z and Agriculture A to Z give great overviews of people, crops, etc.
If you are among those who make up the less than 2 percent of Americans in agriculture, and would like to improve your ability to connect with people more on the food part of the spectrum, check out Grounded and Rising, a membership community and training program that seeks to make those connections easier.