For six generations, the Maricle family in Albion, Nebraska, has been farming — Brian and Hilary Maricle have opened themselves up to talk all about it.
The couple are among the stars of “Growing Season,” an ag-centric documentary series that streams free online on CarbonTV. The third season of the series follows the Maricles and fellow Nebraskans the Andersons from winter through fall, as they face successes and struggles to keep their livestock and crops thriving and profitable.
The Maricles’ five children love to help on the farm that’s been around since 1871, and when Hilary isn’t working alongside Brian on the farm she’s teaching agribusiness to future farmers at a local community college.
The couple talked with AGDAILY about being a part of the show, having to open themselves up to the camera, and the opportunity they get to advocate.
Q: What has it been like to be on “Growing Season” and to be able to tell your farm story?
A: The best part of being on “Growing Season” has been the opportunity to share what we do on our farm with the general public. We, as farmers, are really good at talking to each other, and “Growing Season” allowed us to share food and agriculture with a larger audience. We are at an unprecedented time in agriculture with consumers being interested in how their food is grown, so it’s great to be able to be a part of helping them learn. It has also been fun watching our children learn how to better tell the story of farming. “Growing Season” has a huge audience, and we hope that we were able to connect to some of the audience to make them feel good about the food they eat.
Q: With your crops and other aspects of the operation, you talk about many of the struggles you have. Is it difficult to open yourself up like that?
A: It is different being on camera and talking about the challenges of the farm, but it’s our reality. We wouldn’t farm if we didn’t have a very deep rooted passion for what we do and we know the challenges and blessings that come with farming. If you ask my family, I probably am too open about our lives. It wasn’t hard to to open up and talk to the camera crew for me, but I did have to really think about how to explain things at times. It was important to me that during filming, we were very open and shared our reality, but I didn’t want to come across as complaining because I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Brian tends to be much more private, so it was harder for him to share his story and open up for the show and to talk about our farm. Brian understands the importance of advocacy, but he is much more introverted, so when he does start to open up in a conversation about the farm, you know you’re hearing something genuine and from the heart. It’s what I think makes our story fun, I’ll tell you more than your want to know and if you listen carefully you’ll get the best story from Brian, so we make a good team and a find a good balance to talk about challenges and successes on the farm.
Q: You talk about the show season being chaos, but it’s a good kind of chaos. Tell me why show season is so important to your family, especially the kids.
A: Show season is a good chaos because it’s adding more work and chores to an already full schedule. If we wanted to simplify our lives, the kids wouldn’t show cattle and sheep, but who really wants to simplify. 🙂 The kids help in all aspects of the farm and are learning responsibility every day, but the show animals are an entirely different level of responsibility. The show animals are selected and paid for by the kids and then they are trained, fed, shown and sold by the kids. They learn very quickly that these animals depend on them and they learn about life cycles. I don’t know many 4-Hers and FFA kids who don’t understand where their food comes from. It allows us as parents to set our kids up to be critical thinkers and problem solvers without a huge amount of risk. It’s simply one of the best ways that we know to help our children grow and become a strong asset to society.
For me, showing cattle is about tradition. My Grandpa started the first 4-H Club in Greeley County, his seven children showed and now it is his great-grandchildren that are showing cattle. This is our family hobby and there is no greater joy than watching our kids work with their cousins and friends to help prepare calves for a show. My Mom says that it’s a little crazy watching her grandkids and seeing how similar it is to watching us growing up with our cousins. Somehow, I think my Grandma probably thought the same thing when I was the one showing as she my Mom growing up. We’ve laughed and and few of us have started to call our obsession, the “V Gene” because the Valasek kids love cattle whether they are showing or not even though we have all have different names, it’s in our blood.
Q: For non-farmers who may be watching “Growing Season,” what do you hope that they take away from the series?
A: We hope that the people who watch “Growing Season” will begin to understand that farming is more than just a job for us. We truly care about growing and raising the best food that we can and a large part of that is helping our kids learn how to carry on the tradition of agriculture. It’s also important to us that people learn that we are just like them and that they can begin relate to farmers. Our grandparents didn’t have to share their story because everyone farmed, that’s simply not the case today, so we are willing to take the risk of being on camera to help share that story.
The misconceptions about agriculture and food are so vastly different than reality, we hope that we can start to bridge that gap. We want the viewer to be able to better understand, to laugh and cry with us, to see that we are just one of the millions of families that work hard everyday to succeed in our passion and that passion just happens to be growing food. We care for the livestock, the land and everything on it because we are in this for life, it’s not a passing fad or project, it’s who we are. Maricle Family Farms was started in 1871 and we work hard to make sure our kids can be seventh generation to farm this land. Today, more than ever, to set ourselves up for success in the future, we have to be transparent and open the doors to our farms for people to understand how we grow the food they eat.
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