I grew up in a rural area and I still live in farm country. To this day farming continues to be the main business in this region. As a result, years ago organizations and events were created to keep the farmers informed of the latest farming trends and news and to give farmers the opportunity to offer their opinions and ideas concerning the farm industry.
I have written about a couple of these local farm organizations recently and that brought to mind yet another rural organization that my parents belonged to back in the 1950s and 60s—the Farm Bureau Council.
About a dozen families belonged to our neighborhood “Council,” as we used to call it. Most of the couples in our discussion group lived north of Chatt. The group met monthly and each family took their turn hosting a meeting in their home.
The main purpose was to discuss a specific farm topic or issue, given to the group by the state organization. They provided the topic and questions for discussion. The secretary then reported the results of the discussion to the larger organization.
It was not all serious business. Sometimes the group played games and sang songs. I remember accompanying the group on the piano at several meetings. And of course there was food. The hostess for the monthly meeting would prepare a snack, usually a dessert. It was not only a farm business discussion, it was a social event.
I would usually go along to the meetings. Some of the other couples had children that were my age and we all knew each other because we went to school and church together. We kids would play games while the adults tackled more serious issues.
The members of our Council were Bill & Amber Oakley, Claude & Vergie Buchanan, Vernon & Donna Caffee, Fred & Hulda Miller, Homer & Leona Carr, Forrest & Ercie Ripley, Leo & Mary Baker, Bob & Dorothy Humbert, Enid Westerberg (later married Charles Strable), Argyle & Lucille Bransteter, Raymond and Ruth Broerien, and my parents.
The North-of-Chatt group had a yearly Christmas pot-luck dinner that was usually held at our house. Our basement was partially finished and it was a roomy enough to host a meal.
I do not know if these small groups had names but I do know there were other Farm Bureau Council groups in the area. My friend Miriam said her parents belonged to a group between Chatt and Rockford. That council included the Ivan Fasts, Philip & Emma Brehm, as well as Miriam’s parents, William & Thelma Hawk. Lester & Marge Miller and Paul & Kate Eichler were also in a council.
The Farm Bureau Councils are still active today but are now called Community Councils. According to the Ohio Farm Bureau website, the council program was started in 1936 and the concept is unique to Ohio. The councils were originally formed so groups of couples and singles would “meet regularly to develop camaraderie and community while discussing farm and family topics.. Farm Bureau’s greatest strength lies in its grassroots approach to policy-making and problem solving, giving a voice to agriculture and rural communities…and media and legislators often take note of council feedback.”
The state organization provides topics for discussion to over 400 Community Councils in Ohio today. And they seem to be keeping up with the times, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to share ideas and information.