30 Days of Farms & Families: The Bowmans

My Generation

Day 12: Andrew and Karlie Bowman are making a farm life in rural Knox County.

Published on: November 12, 2011

Married just over two years now, Andrew and Karlie Bowman are popping up in a lot of places these days. Granted, I got to know Karlie through our UI ag communications connection (she's an '09 grad) and I've run into her at various points of the past several years. I think we first met in the media tent at the Farm Progress Show. It's an exciting place; they have donuts there. Don't tell.

Andrew and Karlie are like a lot of young ag couples, in that they met in school, they both love agriculture, he went home to farm and she set about figuring out how to cultivate a career from a place called Oneida. I did the same, only my place was called Marietta. Today, Karlie manages digital media for Wyffels Hybrids. Again, YAY for the internet. Also, one more reason why rural folks need high-speed internet access.

Anyway, I think you'll agree, Andrew and Karlie are about the cutest. Check their Illini photo. That was not an accident in clothing choices, I assure you.

Illinois farm family

And they're sharp, too. They've recently been selected for the Cultivating Master Farmers Class of 2013, where they'll meet with a group of young farmers and Prairie Farmer Master Farmers over the course of the next couple years. It's a sweet deal.

Back home, Andrew and Karlie are raising corn and beans on 2,700 acres (400 of their own) with Andrew's parents, Lynn and Sally. They're also working with his sister, Elizabeth, her fiancé, Matthew Hulsizer, and Matthew's parents, David and Ann Hulsizer.

What do Andrew and Karlie have to say about agriculture? Read on:

*   "Farming is a business enterprise that is empowered and enabled by the lifestyle it demands," Andrew says.  I would totally agree. We work long hours because we love the farm. We work long hours because the farm demands it. In doing so, we become wedding to the place. We and the farm benefit.

*   "The disconnect between producers and consumers is increasingly alarming," Karlie says. Consumers want it both ways, and when they don't understand agriculture, they base their judgments on what they hear. Too often, it's negative garbage "based on small or half-truths that are distorted beyond the bounds of common sense." If farmers were concerned enough about this stuff, it would keep us up at night.

*   "We talk all the time about 'telling our story.' This is hogwash," Karlie adds. Spoken like a true Illinois Farm Families graduate! Actually, I'm not sure if Karlie's been through that program or not, but that's exactly what they get at. We don't need to simply tell our story – people don't care about our story. We need to have conversations. We need to ask them what they're concerned about it. We need to stop inundating them with facts. We need to build a relationship, show them we care about food, and then we can share who we are and what we know. Then – THEN – they might care about our story.

30 Days of Farm & Families
Day 1: The Webels
Day 2: The Mies Family
Day 3: The Thomases
Day 4: The Stewarts
Day 5: The Weavers
Day 6: The Hawkinsons
Day 7: The Kortes
Day 8: The Walters
Day 9: The Schillings
Day 10: The Martins
Day 11: The Pratts