MORRIS – When a couple has a baby, they spend months planning, purchasing a crib, clothing, diapers, bottles, wipes and other necessities.
The last thing they likely consider is how those items got to the store.
The Grundy County Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee decided in 2009 to change that.
“The Young Leader Committee wanted another community-based project to reach out to people that don’t realize how agriculture plays a role in their daily lives,” said Tasha Bunting, manager of the Grundy County Farm Bureau.
National Ag Week is being celebrated from March 23 to March 30, with National Ag Day falling on March 25 this year.
To celebrate, the Young Leaders present the first baby born locally on Ag Day with a gift of needed baby necessities, produced from agriculture commodities grown in Grundy County.
The 2014 Ag baby is Natalie Angela Gonzalez, daughter of Lena Kendra and Luis Gonzalez of Morris. Natalie made her appearance at 12:04 p.m. Tuesday, weighing in at 8 pounds, 5 oz., and 19 inches long.
The parents found out just a few hours after Natalie was born, that she was the first baby on Ag Day and that she would be presented with a basket from the Young Leaders.
“I was so excited when they told us,” Luis said. “I thought, that is so awesome.”
Lena said her grandparents were raised on farms and she had Ag in the Classroom during fourth grade, a program presented by the Grundy County Farm Bureau to students in Grundy County.
But she never put much thought to the items she would need for the baby coming from agriculture.
“I knew cotton and soy came from farms, but I didn’t realize how much stuff does,” she said.
Sara Mitchell, Grundy County Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee member and lifelong Grundy County farmer, delivered this year’s basket Wednesday to the parents at Morris Hospital.
“The idea behind this is that it allows people to know our lives are touched by agriculture from the moment they’re born,” Mitchell said.
Items in the basket include diaper rash cream and baby powder made from corn starch; Advil, which has corn syrup in it; wipes that have lanolin, which comes from sheep wool; and diapers, which have corn starch in them.
A new item to this year’s basket was an infant feeding bowl with spoon, manufactured by Dandelion, which is BPA free and made from corn. In 2008, the possible health risks of the Bisphenol A – or BPA, a common chemical in plastic – made headlines. And manufacturers started creating BPA-free products for use in infant and toddler items like bottles, sippy cups and feeding dishes.
“I was so excited to find a corn-based item to add to the basket,” Bunting said. “As I looked into items that were BPA free, I found many were plant-based products.”
Bunting said everything in the basket can be tied back to agriculture in Grundy County, except for the cotton onesies that are still agriculture based, just not from products grown here.
Karen Rinkenberger, Natalie’s maternal grandmother, was on hand at the hospital when the family received the basket.
“I think it’s a cool idea and it brought an awareness to how everything ties to agriculture,” she said.
With 87 percent of Grundy County being agriculture based and home to 470 farmsteads, Bunting said it is important the consumers, public and legislators realize how important agriculture is to everyday life.
“As we become more and more removed from farming, we need to realize where things come from,” Bunting said.