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Mark Jackson of Rose Hill shares monthly farm diary

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In January, Iowa FFP partnered with Mark Jackson, a grain and livestock farmer from Rose Hill and ISA director, to introduce “Farm Life Journal.” The year-long diary authored monthly by Jackson chronicles all aspects of his life on the farm. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Bringing farm fresh content to an audience of nearly 90,000 food minded Iowans is a priority of the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP).

Launched in 2011 by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and now involving more than 30 farm and food retail partners, Iowa FFP empowers millennials to make more informed decisions about the food they enjoy. This is done by involving them in on-farm and food-prep activities, sharing recipes, acquainting them with farm families and today’s agriculture and connecting them with wellness experts courtesy of its presenting sponsorship of Live Healthy Iowa (livehealthyiowa.org). 

In January, Iowa FFP partnered with Mark Jackson, a grain and livestock farmer from Rose Hill and ISA director, to introduce “Farm Life Journal.” The year-long diary authored monthly by Jackson chronicles all aspects of his life on the farm — from equipment repair, sustainability and budgeting for farm expenses and income, to more personal stories including the joys of farming with children and grandchildren and the antics of his farm companions, “Murphy” his black lab and “Grumpy” the cat. 

Mark Jackson and his grandson walk along a terrace while looking at a field utilizing cover crops. Conservation and sustainability are important topics covered in Jackson's farm life journal. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

The Farm Life Journal featuring a year-in-the-life of Jackson is being shared on iowafoodandfamily.com and across all Iowa FFP digital and social media platforms. ISA recently conversed with Jackson about his interest in telling his story and what he hopes to accomplish by sharing his unique perspectives with his non-farm neighbors. 

What was your initial reaction to basically being asked to keep a diary that would be shared with the Iowa FFP audience? 

As a child, I loved listening to stories handed down and have grown to cherish my deep connection to agriculture. What better way to promote agriculture than to let my urban friends get a sense of what Iowa farmers do every day. Agriculture is a wonderful success story that is generations deep, but it needs to be shared. Consumer confidence is critical in a world filled with social media and reality TV, where emotions can often overshadow good science.

We’ve read your entries and know how busy you are. So how do you work this additional task into your day?

I’ve always enjoyed the art of writing and have told my family’s farm legacy in the form of a TED Talk. So finding the time to share my farming efforts is less of a chore and more of an exercise in stimulating the reader’s ‘mind’s eye.’ I have no lack of material to draw from with my daily tasks, so it’s more of a struggle to keep my writings concise and in a way readers can relate to.

Why is it important to make time for activities like the Farm Life Journal?

Farming is a unique way of life, often misunderstood, but nevertheless a business where sustainability is critical for a healthy environment, a positive economic bottom line and as a solid partner to our friends and neighbors. Less than two percent of the U.S. population farms, so if readers can better understand what the farmer does and why we do it, then everyone and everything will benefit.

Follow along at iowafoodandfamily.com

Mack Jackson smiles as he relaxes with his father Mike Jackson. The journal is a snapshot of life on Mark Jackson's farm in Mahaska County. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com.

©2017 Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network®. All rights reserved. On-Farm Network® is a registered trademark of the Iowa Soybean Association, Ankeny, IA.Portions of some On-Farm Network trials are paid for in total or in part by the soybean checkoff.

Iowa Soybean Association | On-Farm Network | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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August 2017 Contact Ann Clinton for past publications.