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Nelson Produce Farm shows all aspects of agriculture with the Little Farmers program and is a place where a kid can be a farmer for a day.

Owners Pam and Tyler Nelson let children and families roam their Valley, Neb., farm and pretend to harvest vegetables, collect eggs, or milk a display cow. This year, visitors can walk through a mini grain bin donated by Chief Industries.

As part of the Little Farmers program, kids receive a stamp on their card for every task completed. At the end of their chores, they redeem it for a fresh slice of watermelon or a little jug of milk. “It is important that our children learn about farming from produce to grain crops to livestock,” Pam says. “Our farm provides them an opportunity to see many aspects of farm life.”

Pam is a fourth-generation dairy farmer from South Dakota. Her husband, Tyler, is a Nebraska native who grew up on a traditional row crop operation but decided to dive into the produce sector in high school. By the time the couple met and married, Nelson Produce Farm was selling vegetables across three states — Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri.

“It was totally different agriculture than what I grew up with,” Pam says, “but it was agriculture nonetheless.” The two expanded their produce business through wholesale markets and roadside stands but had a strong desire to bring people to the farm. “It was a way to control the market of our crop and have people visit a working farm,” she says.

In June 2019, Nelson Produce Farm opened to the public, serving a dual purpose. The Nelsons sell produce right from the on-farm market but educate through programs like Little Farmers.

For Beth Frerichs, director of marketing and communications at Chief Industries, the donation of the 15-foot grain bin helps all who visit understand the company’s commitment to the agriculture industry. The bin is a replica of a larger Chief grain bin. It lets kids walk through the display and see different types of grains and how they’re used for feed, cereals and flour.

“We want young kids to understand that without farmers, they would not be able to find these types of things on grocery store shelves,” Frerichs says. “It’s not just the General Mills that are making products. They rely on the farmers here in Nebraska to produce everything you see in our grocery stores.”

Visitors to Nelson Produce Farm will walk through a grain bin and learn about crops grown in Nebraska. They can also see how these grains are used to create common products found on grocery store shelves. Frerichs says the Nelson farm is a great fit for Chief’s mission of ag education across generations: “They start with the youngest group and make farming fun.”

Chief also works with high school students to help them better understand how agriculture plays a role in the economy. The company is a proud sponsor of the “I Believe” campaign with the Nebraska FFA. “The education that the FFA program provides is invaluable, and we are proud to support their programs,” Frerichs says.

The company provides speakers for classrooms and offers plant tours for ag education classes. She says it is an opportunity to shed light on potential career opportunities: “There are a wide variety of jobs within agriculture. The tours offer a chance for students to ask questions and see what production looks like in an ag manufacturing plant. It opens their eyes to the possibilities that exist. We rely on them for our future workforce.”


Mindy Ward | Aug 30, 2022